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Keokuk Settles Alcohol Issue


Keokuk, IA – It will remain illegal to have an open container of alcohol on public property in Keokuk.

The city council, though, has approved the final reading of an ordinance that allows the panel to grant an exemption for special events where alcohol will be served.

The city council has been granting exemptions for events like Wine Over Water and Rollin On The River for more than 20 years without having the legal authority to do so.

The debate over the special events issues has been going on for roughly eight months.

During that time, it has focused on whether parks in residential areas (Rand, Kilbourne, etc.) should be excluded as an option for such an event.

1st Ward Alderman Mike O'Connor took things in a new direction during Thursday night's meeting by saying the council should not handcuff its ability to make future decisions.

"This is not the time or place to fight the fight of Alcohol in the Parks,'" says O'Connor, "this is simply about the power and ability of this council to make decisions to govern the city."

The final vote was 6-3 with the council's three new members (John Helenthal, Larry Mortimer, and Roger Bryant) supporting the ordinance.

Bryant opposed this ordinance during his previous stint on the city council because of his opposition to allowing alcohol in Rand Park.

He changed his vote, though, Thursday night to allow requests to go before the city council.

Bryant says when that happens, he plans to vote against requests to hold an event with alcohol in Rand Park.

The need for the ordinance change dates back to last May.

That's when the organizers of the annual Cajun Cook-Off asked for permission to set up a beer tent near the Rand Park Pavilion for the event.

The council rejected the request, forcing the event to the Southside Boat Club.