Clearing Up Confusion About the Willow Tree's Expired Liquor License

May 5, 2014

One of Dillingham’s 2 bars is facing questions from the Dillingham City Council about its liquor license. However, it appears to be just confusion about when the license actually expired.

The liquor license for the Willow Tree Bar was set to expire at the end of 2013 but the owners took advantage of a 2 month grace period, which resulted in their license expiring at the end of February. That was unknown by the City of Dillingham when the issue came to the Dillingham City Council at last week’s meeting because state statutes allow local governing bodies to protest the issuance of a license renewal. The Dillingham City Manager is Rose Loerra.

“The state actually called us and the city police and said they were operating without a license.”

That apparently happened on March 5th. At that point the owners of the Willow Tree abruptly closed the bar. One of the owners of the Willow Tree is Kim Parker and she admits that the owners were late in filing for a license renewal. However, the renewal application was notarized on February 28th but did not make it to the Alaska Alcohol Control Board until about March 5th. At that point the bar’s owners were notified to cease operations. That allowed the bar to be operated through the annual Beaver Round-Up festivities in Dillingham.

The process of getting the expired liquor license renewed has also been confusing. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board received an email on April 11th that the City of Dillingham did not protest the renewal of the license and the licensee, Kim Parker, was issued a temporary license on April 14th. However, it appears the Dillingham City Council never made a decision about protesting the license renewal, which resulted in the matter being taken up at last Thursday’s City Council meeting.

A majority of the members of the Dillingham City Council were uncomfortable just signing off of a straight license renewal at that meeting. Several members repeatedly asked for more information about the matter and raised concerns. Those concerns resulted in the decision to have the City Manager and her staff investigate the matter with the goal of having a special City Council meeting at some point this week before the deadline to protest the liquor license renewal expires on May 10th. The head of the ABC Board says she does not consider what happened as a serious infraction and anticipates that the confusion about the Willow Tree’s liquor license can be cleared up in short order and the license can be renewed.