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New auditor named; city wary of new bar business

 

Posted 7/07/15 (Tue)

By Nicky Ouellet
The welcoming of Abby Salinas to her new role as city auditor was a ray of light through an otherwise cloudy and confusing Tioga City Commission meeting Monday night.
In addition to welcoming Salinas, commissioners addressed concerns about a new bar business and decided to table action on ordinance governing RV parking.
Salinas, an Arizona native, moved to Tioga last October and joined city staff as Deputy Auditor.
“It’s a lot of work but I’m excited. It’s a new challenge and I’m ready,” she said.
Salinas and her husband took a leap of faith and decided to leave the familiarity and comfort of the Southwest for Tioga. The winters aren’t as bad as they feared, the community is welcoming and each are rolling up their sleeves to get down to business at their new jobs.
“Mine’s just to make sure I’m helpful to the city and help it grow or achieve its goals,” she said.
Liquor permit
One of those goals is balancing economic growth while protecting the longstanding businesses that have supported Tioga for decades.
A point of contention at the meeting centered around a liquor permit for the Bucking Buffalo, a restaurant and convention center set to open later this summer. The permit for both on- and off-sale liquor appeared before the board last month, but was tabled because a representative for the restaurant was not present.
On Monday, owner Bob Rupert came before the board to wade through a series of misunderstandings. Of greatest concern was the application for an off-sale license, which downtown businesses fear would pilfer customers. Rupert said he simply seeks approval for diners to drink in an enclosed outdoor patio.
Next was the sort of culture Rupert hoped to establish at the Bucking Buffalo. Rumors have swirled among Tioga’s downtown bars that the Bucking Buffalo would have a “Coyote Ugly” theme, complete with gambling tables and out-of-town barmaids. 
Several local managers and owners spoke of a woman, who identified herself as an employee of the Buffalo, who met with them to describe the new restaurant.
“I know the lady that you’re speaking of. We have hired no one here,” Rupert said in response.
Instead, Rupert described his vision for a convention center and banquet hall that would attract business that usually heads to larger towns like Minot for employee holiday parties and weddings.
“We hope to increase the pie, not split the pie,” he said. “We hope to bring people to your town and give them a lot more reason to be here.”
Other bar managers are not convinced.
“I understand sharing the pie, but you’re also taking it from us,” said Amber Haakenson, manager at the Rig. “You missed the wagon.”
In the end, discussion was tabled until Rupert reapplies for a strictly on-sale license.
RV issue tabled
Commissioners also tabled the ongoing discussion about amending city ordinances regarding street parking of trailers, boats and campers.
Existing ordinances prohibit street parking for a period over 48 hours and parking within 15 feet of stop signs.
But complaints about summer play vehicles clogging the streets spurred commissioners to reconsider parking within city limits. With no clear solution, the board moved to table the discussion until after Labor Day.
“This has been going on for years,” said Board President Drake McClelland.  “We’re going to have to come up with something more permanent for next year.”
For now, members of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Police Department will work together to provide the board with a list of recommendations for both on and off street parking of tow-behinds.
Finally, several homeowners raised complaints against construction company KDAK, LLC, for failing to address construction issues.
The company recently applied for a group of building permits, which McClelland said had to be tabled by request of the state until existing issues outlined in letters of complaince are dealt with.