Boise & Garden City

Boise city ice-rink worker sold alcohol to minor in a sting. Here’s what happened next

How many beers does it take before you reach the legal driving limit?

The California DMV says that having 0.08% Breath Alcohol Content or more means you can't drive. A few journalists from The Sacramento Bee sip on some IPAs to test how many beers it takes to reach the limit.
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The California DMV says that having 0.08% Breath Alcohol Content or more means you can't drive. A few journalists from The Sacramento Bee sip on some IPAs to test how many beers it takes to reach the limit.

What happens when Boise police conduct an undercover sting and officers see an employee at a city-owned venue sell alcohol to an underage buyer?

They write a citation, of course.

That’s what happened two months ago at Idaho Ice World, operated by the Boise Parks and Recreation Department at 7072 S. Eisenman Road in Southeast Boise. An employee was caught selling beer on Feb. 28 to a minor who was part of the sting.

“It was a human error in misreading the birth date on the card,” said Doug Holloway, Boise’s parks director, in a phone interview. “We owned it and made sure we put some things in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Parks Department had a choice: pay a $500 fine or have its license to sell beer and wine suspended for 10 days. City officials chose the suspension, Holloway said.

It was the first time the rink has been cited for an alcohol violation, said Tim Marsano, a spokesman for the Idaho State Police. ISP’s Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau oversees alcohol sellers in the state.

The city has operated Idaho Ice World since late 2003, when it bought the rink for $1 million from the J.R. Simplot Trust. The rink, located near Interstate 84 next to Boise Outlets shopping center, offers public skating, classes and youth and adult hockey leagues.

The city began operating the rink’s concession stand two years ago after Chicago Connection ended its contract. Beer and wine were added to the snack menu after adult players and parents of youth hockey players asked to be able to buy a glass of beer or wine.

Holloway said alcohol sales are far less than at the two city-owned golf courses, Warm Springs and Quail Hollow.

After the police sting, Parks Department staffers spoke with employees to better educate them on age verification procedures. That included the unnamed worker who sold to the underage buyer, who was not fired, Holloway said.

The department also obtained an electronic scanner that reads a bar code on the back of driver’s licenses and says whether buyers are old enough to buy alcohol.

“With the scanners, we don’t have to do the math when someone comes in and purchases an alcoholic beverage,” Holloway said.

The Parks Department already uses scanners at the Warm Springs and Quail Hollow golf courses.

“We took our medicine and we’ll get back to business,” he said.

Idaho Ice World was the site of a nationally publicized 2006 incident where two Zamboni operators drove a pair of the motorized ice groomers out of the rink — at a top speed of 5 mph — to a local Burger King. They grabbed a midnight meal at the drive-through window and returned to the rink, a round-trip of about a mile and a half.

The two drivers were fired.

The alcohol suspension ended Saturday, April 13, Marsano said by phone, but Holloway said it has not yet resumed selling alcohol.

“We’re cleared to go,” Holloway said. “Within the next few days we’ll be ready to start selling again.”

Boise Guardian first reported the alcohol incident.

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Reporter John Sowell has worked for the Statesman since 2013. He covers business and growth issues. He grew up in Emmett and graduated from the University of Oregon.

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