NEOSHO, Mo. — When Neosho City Council members approved new requirements for alcohol sellers, including tougher punishments for those that sell alcohol to minors, they probably didn't think the city would become one of those sellers so soon.

During its regular meeting Tuesday, the council took the next step toward selling alcoholic beverages at the Neosho Golf Course.

Without a vote, council members reached a consensus to be the seller and obtain an alcohol license, instead of hiring a third party to offer those products. That means the city will have to abide by newly created laws dealing with punishments for selling alcohol to minors.

Council members weighed the pros and cons of both during their meeting. City Attorney Stephen Hays said the decision will open up the city to liability issues that any bar, restaurant or liquor store would face.

"We're going to become just like any other private business, and we'll have to meet requirements just like any other business," Hays said. "We'll be subject to sting operations. ... That will make us liable, and that could be embarrassing."

Hiring a third party to assume that liability would remove the main reason for allowing alcohol sales in the first place, board member Carmin Allen said. Alcohol sales are hoped to raise money for needed improvements and regular maintenance at the municipally owned course.

Earlier this year, the city passed a new set of ordinances that prohibit sales of alcohol to minors and add punishments for offenders. The city is expected to follow that law without exception.

Council members joked and shared anecdotal instances of people enforcing that new law during Tuesday's meeting, saying they have been carded lately.

"A person at (King Cash Saver) asked for my ID," Mayor William Doubek said during the meeting. "They apologized for it, saying it was because of a new law. I said, 'I know. I helped write it.'"

Course operators plan to start out with beer sales. A back room at the course's clubhouse will eventually be converted into a restaurant. No time frame for completion of that project was announced during Tuesday's meeting.

In other business:

• Council members reached a consensus to start establishing buyout zones in connection with flooding in 2017, directing city staff to proceed with setting up an informational meeting about them.

Four areas have been established as potential zones. In order to apply for federal Housing and Urban Development grants to fund the buyouts, the council must formally establish those zones.

Buyouts would not be mandatory, but flooding victims would not get a second chance to participate in the buyout, Allen said.

In addition to setting the zones, the city must have a plan in place for relocating residents and designs for the land to be bought out, said Rachel Holcomb, director of economic development.

• Members approved partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation on a renovation project for the dam at Lime Kiln Access.

During Tuesday's meeting, the council authorized applying for a grant to cover the project's engineering costs. In the future, the city will be asked to share a portion of the project's construction costs.

The project would essentially fill a drop-off on the fall side of the dam with a sloped surface. The resulting rapids would remove a drowning hazard at the access and allow easier crossing for wildlife — fish would be able to swim upstream and downstream across the dam, and land-based species would be able to cross more easily.

Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.

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