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Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Club owner asks council to reconsider liquor license matter

Celina's Club Oasis site of underag drinking, other incidents

By William Kincaid
CELINA - Club Oasis owner Chris Wendel asked city council members on Monday night to rescind a resolution objecting to the renewal of his liquor license and request for a public hearing with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.
Wendel said he recently sold Club Oasis to Robert Baumgartner of Decatur, Ind., and the money is being held in escrow at Cisco Realty waiting for the liquor license to be transferred.
Because of council's resolution, Wendel said the transfer could remain in limbo for several months.
Wendel said he simply wants to get rid of the club and perhaps start another business in the city.
"I just want out," Wendel said.
Also, Wendel pointed out that Baumgartner had a misdemeanor conviction that he did not disclose on his liquor license request. In response, liquor control is currently giving Baumgartner a 45-day trial period.
Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser this morning told the newspaper that Baumgartner was convicted of misdemeanor theft.
Wendel said he is considering rolling the money from the deal into another business.
A contested dialogue between Wendel, Slusser, Celina Law Director Kevin McKirnan and Club Oasis bartenders took place during the meeting.
Slusser's department requested the resolution objecting to the license renewal. He said there have been cases of underage drinking and other incidents at the club. Wendel denied the charges, pointing out there has only been one underage drinking violation at his club in the seven years he has owned it.
After the meeting, Slusser provided the newspaper with several arrest reports detailing underage consumption and disorderly conduct at the club. However, none of the subjects noted which bartender served them alcohol, therefore, no bartenders were arrested, Slusser said.
Employees for Club Oasis, including two bartenders and a former security guard and DJ, defended the club during the meeting. One of the bartenders said underage people sometimes come into the bar "wasted," but are escorted out when noticed by club personnel.
Another bartender said there would still be fights in downtown Celina at other bars even if Club Oasis was closed. Wendel agreed fights occur every few months, but said his staff tries to handle them as best that they can.
"One of the problems we have is Club Oasis is the biggest bar in town," he said, adding that it is the main convergence spot at the end of the night and not all of the fights are instigated at the club.
Wendel also objected to not
being notified of council's intention to pass the resolution at the previous meeting. McKirnan replied that council did not have to notify him.
Councilwoman Angie King, who abstained from the vote at the previous meeting because her husband's company does work for Christopher T. Wendel Enterprises LLC., voiced her displeasure on how the situation was handled.
Wendel has been in business a long time and invested thousands of dollars in his business, she said. If the city has "beef" with any business, it should have the common courtesy to talk with its owners face-to-face before pursuing anything in a public arena, she continued.
"That's my only complaint - that he wasn't given a head's up," King said.
Councilman Mike Sovinski suggested that Wendel's attorney work with city administration to come to a solution that would allow council members to rescind the resolution objecting to the renewal of the liquor license.
Mayor Sharon LaRue said that is the duty of city council, not city administration.
Sovinski disagreed, explaining that council looks for guidance from the administration. He said administration is suppose to do the "leg work" so council members can make a decision.
LaRue responded with a laugh.
Sovinski said he didn't think the resolution passed last month was intended to revoke Wendel's license; rather, it was to address ongoing issues at the club. McKirnan also said that was the ultimate goal.
Slusser said there is a venue for all of this - the public hearing with the Division of Liquor Control.
McKirnan agreed and said it serves no purpose to proceed, as Wendel is trying to shortcut the hearing process.
Wendel denied trying to circumvent any legal process. He said he only wants council to step back and allow the state to handle the pending sale and license transfer.
Council took no action on the matter after the discussion.
Additional online story on this date
CELINA - Coldwater softball coach Jeff Kerr didn't need to go far to get a scouting report on the Celina pitcher his team would be facing on Monday.
He sees her every day. [More]
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