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Smithsburg tavern owner might be punished after incidents at bar

Police say excessive drinking and fighting took place at the bar on two occasions in January

March 03, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

Washington County liquor officials are considering whether to punish a Smithsburg tavern owner after police alleged that excessive drinking and fighting took place at the bar on two occasions in January.

Brenda L. Wolfe, owner of the Wolfe's Den at 6 W. Water St., appeared before the Board of License Commissioners for Washington County on Wednesday to listen to Smithsburg police officers describe events they said occurred at the bar Jan. 9 and Jan. 16.

Officer Matthew Hudson told the liquor board that police were at the bar on those nights breaking up fights that were caused by patrons who were highly intoxicated. In one case, Hudson testified, he had to hold several belligerent people outside the bar at Taser-point until backup arrived.

"We noticed high levels of intoxication — people falling off their stools," Hudson said.

He said some of the patrons continued to try to start fights despite police being there.

Officer Jon Witmer testified that as many as 30 people were arguing in a group at the bar on Jan. 16.

"I felt like we had to baby-sit that night," Witmer said.  "I was very close to telling them to close up."

Witmer said many of the patrons had difficulty walking and talking. Some of them were swaying back and forth on their bar stools, he said.

"It was very obvious" that they were intoxicated, he said.

Wolfe told liquor officials that she barred many of the people who were involved in the fights and sent their names to the liquor board.

"I think we did a good job of watching everybody," Wolfe said of her bartenders' performance on the nights of the fights. "We had a lot of people cut off."

She said she told her employees to stop serving drinks to her patrons in the future before they get drunk.

Liquor Board Chairman Robert L. Everhart said the three-member board would make a decision within 30 days.

The maximum penalty is a $2,500 fine and revocation of the liquor license.

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