Thursday March 21, 2013

NEAL P. GOSWAMI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- A downtown bar that received a 10-day suspension from the state last fall has another hearing set for next week before the Vermont Department of Liquor Control.

Bill Goggins, director of education, licensing and enforcement with the Vermont Department of Liquor Control, said a hearing will take place in Montpelier on March 27 involving Doug’s on Main Street. The hearing is a result of at least two visits to the bar in December by a state liquor inspector, according to Goggins.

The bar is owned by Doug Goble and his mother, Mary. Neither could be reached Wednesday for comment.

Specific information about the allegations against the bar is not public until the Liquor Control Board decides to take action, Goggins said. However, he said next week’s hearing involves over-serving patrons, serving multiple drinks to patrons and providing free drinks.

The investigative report will become a public document if the state board takes action. The report will not be released if the charges against the bar are dismissed.

Doug’s reached a settlement with the state last September and accepted a 10-day suspension. Investigators charged that the bar served alcohol to patrons "displaying obvious signs of intoxication." Other charges included furnishing alcohol to patrons for free, and a "disturbance/brawl" on the premises.


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Goggins said the previous suspension will have no bearing on next week’s hearing because each case is considered separately.

"Somebody can screw up once and get their license revoked depending on the scale of the violation," he said. "It’s literally, a case-by-case basis."

The state board could issue a decision on March 27, Goggins said. However, the bar could also request that the case move to findings of fact, which would call for 10 days to submit the bar’s arguments in writing, he said.

The town has taken an interest in issues at Doug’s in the past. The Bennington Police Department has used "directive patrols" during late night hours at the bar to have an increased police presence. Chief Paul Doucette has appeared before the Select Board in the past to raise concerns about the number of calls his department has responded to there.

Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd said the town has no plans to participate in next week’s hearing. "We could, but given when the hearing is occurring, I’m not going to pursue it with (the Select Board). I don’t have enough information about next week’s hearing," he said.

Meanwhile, Select Board Chairman Joseph L. Krawczyk Jr., who also serves as chairman of the local Liquor Control Board, which is the Select Board, said he plans to follow the outcome of next week’s hearing before any potential local action is taken. The bar’s local liquor license must be renewed at the end of April.

"I have very serious concerns about it," he said. "I am very concerned. But, right now in my position as the chair, I’m going to recommend we wait out and see what the state board does. We’re going to have new members on the board when we have to take it up and decide in April."

Contact Neal P. Goswami at ngoswami@benningtonbanner.com, or follow on Twitter: @nealgoswami