Toolkits aim to keep liquor license holders up on state laws

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— The Steamboat Springs City Clerk's office has ordered 100 alcohol retailer toolkits from the Youth Wellness Initiative to help combat underage drinking.

The toolkits include a copy of Colorado liquor laws, policies and procedures that retailers are encouraged to adopt, a responsible alcohol server agreement for employers to have staff members sign, warning stickers and signs, and a list of available training resources.

"I presented the idea of a city-approved toolkit to members of our local chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association at several meetings last year," said Kristi Brown, a Steamboat restaurant and bar owner who works with the Youth Wellness Initiative.

"Everyone present was excited about the opportunity to gain access to more alcohol responsibility-related resources, particularly resources recommended by the city," she said. "I believe that most operators in our liquor-serving community are actively seeking ways to improve compliance with state liquor laws as well as decrease their liquor liability. This toolkit offers liquor license holders the resources to achieve both of those goals."

A Steamboat Springs High School survey revealed in January 2006 that 54 percent of high school students reported consuming alcohol once or more in the past 30 days, and 40 percent reported getting drunk once or more in the past two weeks.

The survey also found that 74 percent of high school students reported attending one or more parties in the past year where fellow students were drinking.

City Clerk Julie Jordan said she plans to recommend to Steamboat's Liquor Licensing Authority that the voluntary adoption of responsible alcohol policies and procedures, such as those recommended in the toolkit, by a liquor license holder should be taken into consideration by the authority when liquor licenses are up for renewal.

Other resources available through the Youth Wellness Initiative include a DVD that can be borrowed for use in staff training sessions.

"The DVD was created for off-premise license holders, such as liquor stores, but could be used by bars and restaurants as well," said Colleen Lyon, director of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition. "Owners and managers can use it as a seasonal refresher to keep responsible practices in the forefront of staff members' minds."

Brown said she hopes that in addition to lowering teen drinking rates in Steamboat, the toolkits could help build stronger relationships between liquor license holders and city officials.

"Many local alcohol purveyors in our community see the city in primarily a disciplinary role," she said. "The provision of toolkits to all liquor license holders in the city by the City Clerk's office does a great deal to change the perceived nature of the relationship between the city and liquor license holders - from what some would describe as somewhat adversarial to a more collaborative effort at prevention."

Liquor license holders who don't want to wait until their liquor licenses are renewed to receive an alcohol retailer toolkit are encouraged to call Grand Futures Prevention Coalition at 879-6188.

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