County, fairgrounds personnel formulate event center policies
Carbon County's newly constructed events center at the fairgrounds is expected to open by the end of May.
The facility is the first of its kind in Carbon County. As a result, commissioners and fairgrounds staff are in the process of formulating policies which address the planned uses for the events center.
Rhonda Peterson, who directs the activities at the fairgrounds, approached the commission last week to review some of the new policies which are specific to the events center.
Peterson said one area to be addressed was the county's liquor license policies for the center.
Under current policies, groups using county facilities are not generally allowed to serve alcohol.
Commissioner Steven Burge said one reason for the no alcohol policy is to not compete with local businesses.
But for the first time, the county now has a facility unlike any business in the area and groups may request alcohol at their events.
"Little local groups are one thing. But if you have big conventions, and they want to go through the process to have a social hour, I think that should be allowed," said Commissioner Bill Krompel.
Peterson explained the county's insurance underwriters would like to see a policy that requires groups serving alcohol to purchase liquor liability coverage under the county's tenant users liability insurance program.
Rates for the liquor liability vary based on the size of the group, how long the event lasts and the type of event.
Peterson continued that a no-alcohol policy in the events center could be a deterrent for some groups who would otherwise host an event at the fairgrounds.
"If we have a convention that wants to come in and they want to have a happy hour and we don't allow it, then that excludes that group," she explained.
Peterson added that the no-alcohol policy at College of Eastern Utah has been a problem for the Utah Tourism Council, which will be hosting its annual conference at the college later this year.
"You're not going to get a lot of folks to have their conventions here if you don't allow alcohol," said Commissioner Michael Milovich.
The commission agreed that larger groups in the events center should be permitted to serve alcohol as long as they had proper coverage.
Peterson also reported to commissioners that she had spoken with attorney Christian Bryner regarding a proposed preferred caterers list for groups intending to use the center.
The attorney handles the majority of the civil legal matters for Carbon County government.
The preferred list would be a list of local caterers who had met certain criteria established by the county, such as providing documentation of food handlers permits, necessary insurance and a business license.
"That way if someone wanted to bring them in, we can say 'Yes, we've pre-approved these people,'" pointed out Bryner. "I think we need to be careful not to exclude somebody else, though."
"If somebody wants to bring in a vendor that is not on this pre-approved list, as long as we allow that vendor to come in and show that he can meet all of our requirements - that he has a food handlers permit and the other permits that are needed - then I don't have any problem with having what Rhonda would call a preferred caterers list," continued the attorney.
Vendors on the list should be required to maintain the necessary requirements, stressed Milovich.
The county commissioner said vendors who fail to do so should be required to complete the entire review process before being placed back on the list.
Peterson indicated that she would have a completed draft of the event center vendor policy for county lawmakers to review at the April 18 commission meeting.