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PAC alcohol question will bring up joint meeting

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

ASHWAUBENON – The village board and school board will hold a joint meeting to discuss whether to allow beer and wine sales at some Performing Arts Center non-school events.

The PAC, which is located on school property and funded by both the district and the Village of Ashwaubenon, has not served alcohol at events since the auditorium was completed in 2016.

The issue was initially brought before the school board in June by PAC Executive Director Kate Green, who proposed allowing alcohol to be served at some community events as part of the patron experience.

After Green provided school board members with additional information related to other PACs serving alcohol, the matter was back Wednesday, Aug. 14, for possible action.

However, school board members held off making a decision, which they wanted to do together with the village board.

Ashwaubenon Village President Mary Kardoskee speaks Wednesday, Aug. 14, before the Ashwaubenon school board to suggest the school board and village board hold a joint meeting to decide whether to allow serving alcohol at the Performing Arts Center.

Village President Mary Kardoskee, who was on hand for the school board meeting, suggested the joint meeting, given the village’s relationship with the school district.

“The school district and the village have an awesome relationship,” Kardoskee said. “There’s not a lot of them in the state that have that.”

Kardoskee said she would hate to see either board vote on its own on whether to allow alcohol at the PAC without both involved.

“I would love to sit down with (the) school board (and) village board and iron this thing out, because it is a community facility,” she said. “It’s not just a school facility…”

Kardoskee said she didn’t have an opinion one way or another as to whether to allow alcohol at the PAC.

School Board President Jay Van Laanen raised concerns about how allowing alcohol to be served at the PAC could set a precedent in which other groups using school facilities would also want to serve alcohol.

“Whatever decision we’re going to make, we’re going to have to all be unified,” Van Laanen said. “We’re going to have to get support from the village.”

Van Laanen noted the village would have to grant a license to serve alcohol at the PAC and Superintendent Kurt Weyers would have to sign off on allowing that to happen.

If serving alcohol would be allowed on school property, Weyers said the superintendent would be in a tough position as to which requests to approve or deny.

“If we said ‘yes’ to the PAC, but then someone else comes to us says, ‘We want to serve it at a softball game, we want to host a men’s softball tournament there and serve alcohol,’” Weyers said. “We’re trying to anticipate some future questions that might come up.”

Lissa Marth, who chairs the PAC’s advisory board, said the three concerns the board has about serving alcohol include context, prospective on the topic and the process for which the decision would be made.

“With this topic, we believe that it’s really very black and white with respect to students, and we want you to know that,” Marth said. “We are unanimous that never in a million years would we come to you… about alcohol service as it relates to anything related to student events or student usage of this facility, and we are not.”

Marth said she realizes the PAC is in a unique situation because the building is funded by village taxpayers and sits on school district property.

“We are split right down the middle in terms of usage – 52 percent kids, 48 percent community at-large,” she said. “And so, we actually, when we talk about context, recognize that… we have to represent the voices of all the stakeholders. The village has to represent the community, and school board has to represent the schools.”

Marth said the PAC board’s perspective on the issue is alcohol should never be served at events involving students, but it should be possible for community events.

She said the PAC would like to serve alcohol on a trial basis to see if that would be a good idea before permanently committing to it.

Marth said the PAC has been asked by attendees at all but one event about serving alcohol there before shows and during intermission.

She said most people requesting that are the older patrons age 45-63.

“These aren’t the young kids asking for this,” she said.

Marth said there wouldn’t be a liquor store opening up in the PAC by serving beer and wine an hour before a show and 20 minutes during intermission.

The PAC board proposed initially having two fundraising events where alcohol would be served.

Weyers said the proposal has generated the most feedback he has received of any topic since he became superintendent in July 2018.

Except for people associated with the PAC board, Weyers said the comments he has received are against allowing alcohol to be served there.

“I’ve had people in my office angry that we are even considering it,” he said.

Weyers said there was no mention of possibly serving alcohol at the PAC when construction of the facility was approved, and now people are angry because they feel they have been misled with the current effort seeking to allow that.

He said school property has the expectation of being a safe zone that is drug and alcohol free, though he isn’t naïve to think people won’t try to bring something in.

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