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North Adams License Commission Reduces Tavern Hours
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
06:29PM / Tuesday, January 23, 2024
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Mohawk Tavern will have reduced hours after a string of incidents dating back a year was reviewed by the License Commission on Tuesday. 
The commissioners voted to impose a last call at 11:30 p.m. and "lights out" at midnight from February through the end of April, at which time the order will be evaluated. 
Their decision was based on a report submitted by interim Police Chief Mark Bailey detailing 15 incidents at or near the bar since an underage serving incident in January 2023. 
Owner Alexander "Sandy" Smith told the commission he'd already instituted an 11:30 last call and added a bouncer because of an increase in disturbances the last couple months. 
"I'm taking those very seriously and I have actually implemented things to improve the situation on my own before I even received the letter [from the commission]," he said, adding that the earlier closing on crowded nights was working well. 
Officers had informed the chief in December that "we really had an influx of calls coming from the Mohawk Tavern," Bailey said. That prompted him to look through call records and he found about 15 calls to the area. 
Some weren't really pertinent, such as a minor fender-bender in the vicinity, but there was the underage service, at least four for overserving and a fistfight between off-duty bartenders, he said. 
Smith confirmed the bar incidents, saying he kept an incident book that the bartenders are supposed to record in each night. 
"I'm taking this extremely seriously. I started calling staff meetings once a month. I said these incident book reports is extremely important," he said. 
Both he and the commissioners were concerned about the long delay in reporting from the police. 
"I think if the reports were sent right away, and then the establishment would know right away for instance," Smith said. "I have cameras, then I could capture it and go back and look at the history and kind of collaborate what's going on. ... so if everyone is enlightened, we would know about the incident right away as opposed to a year later."
That was the case with the 20-year-old served back in January 2023. One employee had apparently called the police anonymously on the other employee for not catching the fake ID. Smith said if she'd contacted him or told the bartender, the woman wouldn't have been served. 
"We just would have kicked her out and barred her," he said. 
Another time was an individual who arrived intoxicated and fell asleep on the bar. He wasn't served but the bartenders had trouble waking him and called police. There was some discussion on whether officers should have been called sooner rather than later and Smith said there was also the issues of patrons downing nips before entering the bar so they seemed more sober than they really were. 
This month, two off-duty bartenders had been drinking elsewhere and then showed up to confront another person about relationship issues and broke a window. Smith said they were fired immediately. 
The commissioners were unhappy that they were getting reports months after the incidents occurred. 
"Those reports should be sent to us immediately as they happen, because that would help us to help the establishment get a handle on it a lot sooner," said Commissioner Rosemari Dickinson. "So that the establishment will know that they're being watched."
Smith agreed, saying if the reports were sent sooner he could check his cameras to corroborate or correct what was reported. 
Bailey said he couldn't speak to why the underage drinking wasn't reported as he wasn't chief at the time but that efforts would be made to correct it. 
In the meantime, Smith said in addition to closing earlier and adding crowd control on Friday and Saturday nights, he's considering having all his bartenders refresh on Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPs) and is setting up a session to go over safety protocols. He and Bailey were going to meet immediately after the show-cause hearing to go over some protocols for when and how to call officers. 
Commissioners were pleased that Smith was being proactive but felt there should be some disciplinary action based on the number of calls. They did note that it had been five years since the last time the bar had been before them but Commissioner Peter Breen said there still had been an incident a month and that police had asked for some help. 
"I applaud you for taking the initiative and doing what you're doing but as a board I feel like we also need to do something," said Commissioner Michael Goodson. "I feel comfortable with that 11:30 coming from us."
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