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Ripon ponders expanding legal public drinking
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The City of Ripon is looking to expand the ordinance on alcohol consumption in public places and special events, from indoors to outdoors.
As it currently stands, Ripon does allow for beer and wine at certain indoor events. “This allows for the police department to successfully contain these events so that alcohol does not affect the public,” said City Attorney Tom Terpstra at last Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting.
Elected leaders recently established an alcohol committee to draft some changes. They came up with the following:
uAllowing alcohol consumption as part of an organized performance-based event at the Mistlin Sports Park amphitheater.
uAllowing the serving of beer and wine at downtown establishments on Main Street between Stockton Avenue and Nourse Avenue.
uAllowing a once per year alcohol consumption between Stockton Avenue and Walnut Avenue during the downtown community dining event.
According to Terpstra, staff currently does not support the last one of the three. That’s after he and Ripon Police Chief Ed Ormonde discussed the ordinance allowing for a single community dining event at which consumption of alcoholic beverages “would be permitted on public property, unless the events were held in a clearly defined area,” Terpstra said.
He added: “Council needs to decide to allow alcohol consumption at all special events on public property, or whether to limit such events to clearly contained areas such as the Community Center or the Mistlin Park amphitheater.”
Danielle Pierce, meanwhile, was thrilled with the prospects of outdoor dining at downtown businesses.
“I’m happy we’re finally taking steps (to do this),” she said. “I’m not sure if serving alcohol will add to the experience.”
Still, Pierce believes such changes could pave the way for Ripon to step up with the times.
City Administrator Kevin Werner noted that those downtown businesses looking to open up their establishments with the outdoor seating arrangements could be required to have uniformed umbrellas, furniture and planters.
Staff has agreed to go back and review the draft, making any necessary changes before bringing back before council.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail