Commission to hold hearing on training for alcohol servers

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 | 6:13 p.m. CDT; updated 8:17 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 27, 2012

COLUMBIA — A proposed ordinance designed to better educate alcohol servers about fake IDs and serving intoxicated people faces a public test.

The Substance Abuse Advisory Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal that would require anyone who serves alcohol to complete a training course. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Public Health and Human Services Department, at 1005 W. Worley St.

Servers are defined as those involved with the retail selling, service and dispensing of beverages containing alcohol or those taking orders for, accepting payment for, mixing, serving or assisting the mixing or serving of alcoholic beverages, according to a server training fact sheet provided by the Health Department.

Alcohol consumption in Columbia "has been a concern for a number of years by the Columbia Police Department and the Health Department,” Michelle Baumstark, chair of the substance abuse commission said. “The Substance Abuse Advisory Commission thought an ordinance would help improve safety."

The ordinance would require servers to obtain a permit by completing a training course. Certification is available to handlers through training programs approved by the director of Public Health and Human Services. The free online State of Missouri Alcohol Responsibility Training program is one program already approved.

The SMART program takes one hour to complete and will teach servers how to prevent alcohol sales to minors and others who are already under the influence of alcohol. Because it is a state law to discontinue service to intoxicated persons, the training will provide servers the skills to turn the patron to focus on something other than alcohol.

“The point was to make SMART training as convenient for bar owners and workers as possible,” said Kim Dude, director of the Wellness Resource Center at MU and a member of the commission.

The ordinance was designed to work similarly to the existing food handlers program and training, which is also overseen by the Health Department.

If the ordinance is passed, current employees will have a year to complete training, employees hired after approval of the ordinance will be required to complete the training within 30 days.

Once a server completes training, they would receive a certificate to provide to the Health Department. The permit would cost $5, unless the server also has a food handlers permit, in which case the fee would be waived. Like the food handlers permit, a servers permit would last for three years before needing to be renewed.

“Anyone who serves or sells alcohol in any way should be trained, just like any person who handles food,” Dude said.

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