Sunday liquor sales hours could change in Lander; skate park bid requests to be issued next month

The Middle Fork restaurant co-owner Geoff Rader requested the council consider changing Sunday liquor sales hours. (Joshua Scheer photo)

The Middle Fork restaurant co-owner Geoff Rader requested the council consider changing Sunday liquor sales hours. (Joshua Scheer photo)

By Joshua Scheer, reporter,

(Lander, Wyo.) – The Lander City Council will consider amending alcohol sales hours next week after hearing from several liquor establishment owners on Tuesday night.

The Middle Fork restaurant co-owner Geoff Rader asked the council to consider extending hours on Sunday from the existing 12 p.m. start time to 10 a.m. in order for the restaurant to serve drinks with brunch. Bloody mary’s and mimosas are what Rader said would likely be available.

“What we’re doing is making more contemporary, the Sunday service hours,” Rader said, adding that in almost any other larger city drinks would be available for Sunday brunches.

Councilor Dick Hudson asked if the change was necessary, noting that during his recent campaign many people spoke to him about local alcohol problems.

Council Cade Maestas reminded the council and audience that he attempted to make a change to the hours about a year ago, but it failed to pass on a third and final reading.

“It has nothing to do with changing the responsible consumption of alcohol,” Maestas said. “To mandate to the people a moral code because Sunday is different is out of bounds.”

Popo Agie One Stop owner Ron Hanson said during the week, when liquor sales can start at 6 a.m., only about 10-15 percent of his business is conducted before 1 p.m. He didn’t see that it would cause any problems and understands Rader’s request for brunch serving hours. “He’s probably heard it from my wife more than once that she’d love a bloody mary,” he said.

Currently, state statute allows liquor sales from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day of the week. The City of Lander restricts those hours on Sunday, but matches the state the rest of the week. Maestas suggested matching the state hours rather than just moving the Sunday hours to 10 a.m.

Hanson said he feels all the local liquor establishments have become better in recent years about monitoring over consumption and purchases by minors.

Police Chief Jim Carey agreed with Hanson but said his constituents would disagree with changing the hours.

“We have something that works now,” he said. “We have a tremendous problem in this community when it comes to alcohol. … I’m not trying to be difficult for the businesses.”

Mr. D’s owner Michelle Motherway said she would not support an exception for the restaurants while leaving the retail sales hours the same. However, she didn’t foresee her store changing their hours. Mayor Mick Wolfe had asked legal counsel whether separating the two was a possibility.

Maestas said the change could also help the golf board, as some golfers like to take drinks with them on the course on Sunday morning but aren’t allowed to bring outside alcohol in.

The general consensus from the council was to present the change for a first reading next Tuesday. Council President Nancy Webber and Councilor Dan Hahn were not in attendance.

Other meeting notes:

– The Council approved renewal of all liquor licenses. No objections to any of the licenses were raised at the meeting.

– Consensus approval was given to Parks and Recreation Director Sara Felix to prepare for bidding out the skate park construction in late February. The project is currently estimated to cost about $275,000. The skate park committee has successfully raised $200,300. Grant applications pending could total more than the remaining $75,000 and other grants are on the horizon for application.

– Possible changes to the city’s code relating to parking large vehicles on streets was added to next week’s agenda.

– Assignment of council liaisons to various boards and groups was postponed until a full council was available for discussion.