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Tobacco sales suspended at three Cloquet stores

Three Cloquet stores face tobacco sales suspensions of five, 10 and 90 days for selling cigarettes or tobacco products to minors. At least twice a year, the city conducts compliance checks on all businesses selling tobacco products by engaging mi...

Three Cloquet stores face tobacco sales suspensions of five, 10 and 90 days for selling cigarettes or tobacco products to minors.

At least twice a year, the city conducts compliance checks on all businesses selling tobacco products by engaging minors to enter the licensed premises to attempt to purchase tobacco, tobacco products or tobacco-related devices.

Murphy Oil USA and Stoney's House of Spirits had both failed two compliance checks within the past 24 months, while Sunnyside Little Store had failed three checks.

The normal time of suspension for two failures is 10 days plus a $200 fine. Murphy Oil USA, however, had requested an administrative hearing to contest the suspension. Regional Manager Lee Scadden and store manager Rick Toya attended the hearing held by Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande and Cloquet City Attorney Frank Yetka.

After hearing that the company had dismissed the employee who sold the cigarettes, plus installed an I.D. scanner and instituted its own monthly "mystery shopper" program, Lamirande and Yetka recommended the Council reduce the suspension to five days.

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The five-day suspension was approved by the City Council and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren by majority vote, with Councilors Kerry Kolodge and David Bjerkness dissenting.

Neither of the other businesses requested an administrative hearing, Lamirande said.

Councilors and the mayor unanimously approved a 10-day suspension and $200 fine to Stoney's House of Spirits, for sale of tobacco products to a minor.

They also unanimously approved a 90-day suspension and $500 fine for the Sunnyside Little Store for sale of tobacco products to a minor, the store's third offense within 24 months.

Although Sunnyside officials had not requested an administrative hearing on the matter, manager Kristi Peterson addressed the council at the end of the Tuesday meeting, noting that the company would like the city to consider raising the fines it charges the individual employees for tobacco infractions.

"[The suspension] will have a huge impact on the taxes we pay and the hours we give our employees," Peterson said.

In other matters Tuesday, the Council and mayor also:

- Unanimously approved the appointment of Rick Stowell to the Parks Commission;

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- Rescheduled a public hearing regarding refinancing of tax-exempt bonds for HADC Cloquet (Evergreen Knoll) and approved the sale of tax-exempt bonds for Pinewood facilities in Cloquet and Duluth;

- Voted unanimously to amend the zoning ordinance where it deals with in-home businesses. The change will remove the city's requirement that people conducting a business within their home purchase a home occupation permit while still allowing for enforcement of city code regarding in-home businesses.

- Voted unanimously to eliminate duplicate entries and update language in the city code pertaining to wireless communications facilities.

Related Topics: CLOQUET
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