Black Mountain Tavern employee Ryan Adrian makes a drink Friday afternoon. Oak Creek officials are proposing alcohol servers once again be required to be TIPS certified.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Black Mountain Tavern employee Ryan Adrian makes a drink Friday afternoon. Oak Creek officials are proposing alcohol servers once again be required to be TIPS certified.

Alcohol server training law may return to Oak Creek

Oak Creek seeks to re-establish law requiring handlers to complete TIPS



In 2006, the Town Board rescinded portions of Oak Creek's municipal code relating to TIPS certification for alcohol servers.

— The Oak Creek Town Board is working to mandate alcohol server training again for bars and restaurants in town, re-establishing a law that it struck down several years ago.

At its meeting Thursday, the Town Board directed its attorney to draft an ordinance requiring alcohol servers to complete the Training for Intervention Procedures course, and be recertified every three years. The board will have to vote to approve the ordinance at a future meeting and undergo a 30-day waiting period before the law would go into effect.

In a four-hour TIPS class, attendees are briefed on properly checking identification cards, recognizing signs of intoxication and dealing with intoxicated patrons, said Mayor J. Elliott, who also is co-owner of the Colorado Bar.

"It's just kind of a familiarization. It's especially useful for new people who haven't been in the business," Elliott said.

"It's not a bad idea," said Doug Diamond, co-owner of Black Mountain Tavern. "The only problems with TIPS is, it's an inconvenience. You have to still run your business while you find the time to get everyone trained."

Diamond also speculated that the TIPS training has become an issue now in the absence of police in Oak Creek, and that the Town Board is trying to foster an attitude toward responsible consumption.

For many years, alcohol server training was required in Oak Creek. In the 1990s, the Town Board - acting as Oak Creek's liquor license authority -practically required current TIPS certifications when considering license renewals, Trustee Gerry Greenwood said.

That changed in January 2006, under the mayoral administration of Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman. The Town Board decided it was the responsibility of business owners, not the town, to ensure servers are trained properly, and it rescinded relevant portions of Oak Creek's municipal code.

The current Town Board trustees had expressed interest in getting the law back on the books, and they chose to move ahead now, as the town is poised to recodify its municipal code next year, Elliott said.

There is no state law requiring people who sell or serve alcohol to complete a training course such as TIPS, though many municipalities have enacted their own laws.

The city of Steamboat Springs requires people who serve alcohol as part of their jobs, including bartenders and liquor store clerks, to participate in an alcohol training course within two months of beginning employment, according to the city's municipal code. There was a three-year recertification clause in Steamboat's original ordinance, passed in 1988, though the requirement was deleted in 1999 after Steamboat Springs Restaurant Association members argued it was not beneficial.

The Oak Creek Town Board opted to add a three-year recertification re-quirement to its pending ordinance after discussions at its meeting Thursday.

Though Elliott acknowledged new servers may benefit from TIPS or similar training, he questioned whether bartenders who have been at it for decades would benefit much from recertification.

"Most of the people down here in Oak Creek have been doing it for years. It's not going to be that helpful to the old-timers," Elliott said.

With only a few liquor-serving establishments, Oak Creek's bartenders already have a network going in which they call one another if they cut someone off, particularly out-of-towners whom the servers may not know, Diamond said.

"If they get cut off at one place, they're not going to get served anywhere in town," Diamond said.


Scott Wedel 8 years, 5 months ago

TIPS is so easy that it is not an issue to get certified. Unless a business has every bartender working every shift then it is not hard to have one group trained one day and the rest trained another day. The point of certifying any one for any job is not that the skilled experienced person is going to learn anything important, but that at the very least it is known that everyone working that profession passed a test showing at least minimal knowledge.

Thus, the big advantage of requiring TIPS is that then there are no excuses when there is a bartender that is over serving. The excuse of not knowing better is no longer valid.

I think there are no such problems with any current bartenders in Oak Creek, but there have been bartenders in recent years that have had issues with over serving.

And personally, I would also require bars to have surveillance cameras covering the bar and exterior entrances because there is no excuse for the occasional fights or shots fired of which no one knows anything or saw anything by the time the police arrive. The surveillance tapes would need a court ordered search warrant to be viewed by the police which would require probable cause of a crime so it would not be any great invasion of privacy.


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