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Council, owner get wild over Wildcats

By Staff | Mar 30, 2014

After a heated discussion between the Wells City Council members and Wildcats Bar and Grill owner Ben Musser Jr., the two sides are still not seeing eye to eye.

Last Monday, the Wells City Council discussed Wildcats’ 2 a.m. liquor license.

“Our intent is to not take away their liquor license,” city administrator Robin Leslie explains. “We want to review and discuss some issues so both the business and the city improves their communication.”

According to Wells police chief Jim Ratelle, there has been an increase in police activity at Wildcats Bar and Grill and he has also noticed people have been served after 2 a.m.

In the last three years, the American Legion, the VFW and the Wells Municipal Liquor Store have had 42 combined phone calls regarding police activity; Wildcats Bar and Grill has had 42 calls itself.

According to Leslie, there has been eight phone calls to police officers already this year, not including March.

“One reason Wildcats Bar and Grill has had so many calls is because they are the only bar setting open until 2 a.m.,” Leslie admits. “But, the number of calls are still almost double compared to the American Legion in the last couple years.”

Musser countered with an explanation of instances when Wildcats would call police to help assist customers out of the bar and how those calls were counted against him.

Ratelle told the City Council he has spoken to Musser in the past about the 2 a.m. license.

“I’ve communicated to Ben how important it is to close at 2 a.m.,” Ratelle says. “At 2 a.m., the bar needs to be closed and everyone has to be out.”

Musser voiced his concern because there has never been a clear cut rule on the clarity of the license.

“I’m willing to work this out, I?just want to understand,” Musser says. “All the cops have different rules and ways of dealing with things. Also, all those calls to police have not happened after 2 a.m.”

According to Musser, he never had the feeling that any situations have gotten out of hand.

“I don’t want to fight with anyone on the City Council, or with anyone in town, I just want to sit down and, once and for all, figure out what the rules are.”

According to Leslie, the issue was first brought up because the City Council deals with liquor licenses.

Leslie also voiced her concern about officer safety.

“It is an issue of the officers time and resources,” she says. “At times, these officers are being put into situations, which they shouldn’t be involved in because Wildcats Bar and Grill should be closed.”

Musser agreed with Leslie by saying he is also concerned for his bartenders.

“We are worried about our employees, too,” he says. “There needs to be clarification to what needs to happen so we can keep everyone safe.”

A decision was made to set up a date and have Musser meet with chief Ratelle, Leslie and the Public Safety committee to discuss concerns regarding the license.

“We want you in our town,” council member Ann Marie Schuster says. “And, we both want the same thing. There is just a huge misunderstanding and we hope to resolve this as soon as possible.”