City Council’s nonrenewal of bar’s license was community effort, big step forward

The Menomonie City Council and Mayor Randy Knaack issued a strong statement Monday night about the need to address high-risk drinking behaviors by voting unanimously not to renew the license for the Rehab bar on Broadway Street. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram story on the meeting is available here.

I attended the four-hour hearing the council held on the nonrenewal and witnessed the high degree of emotions that hovered over this issue. I want to personally thank the mayor and each council member who devoted so much time to this issue and for taking a strong stand in favor of responsible alcohol service downtown.

Others who worked so hard on this issue deserve thanks as well, including members of the Chancellor’s Coalition on Alcohol and Drugs; Menomonie Police Chief Eric Atkinson and the entire department; UW-Stout Police Chief Jason Spetz and his department; our Dean of Students office; and members of Menomonie Cares. This issue required a united community effort, and Menomonie responded.

I also want to also thank the other bars, restaurants and businesses in downtown Menomonie and across the city that stepped up to lend their support to this nonrenewal. Their backing was very important to this successful outcome. In addition, I want to emphasize that I’m grateful to the majority of tavern owners who operate responsibly and exemplify sound and ethical business practices.

Looking forward, I hope that this action means we’re entering a new era in this community that has at its core the desire to nurture our young people. The Rehab owner had the temerity to tell the council Monday night that he placed “people over profits.” The facts of this case spoke otherwise. We now have a real chance to move forward from this situation and work together to address the scourge of high-risk alcohol use and its many consequences.