Water Wars returns; Humboldt looks to earlier alcohol sales

Humboldt City Council members plan to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages beginning at 9 a.m. on Sundays. Also, council members agreed to close streets for the Water Wars parade on Aug. 14.

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June 16, 2021 - 9:53 AM

Water Wars will return to Humboldt in August. The last event, in 2019, brought a large crowd and several activities. Register file photo

HUMBOLDT — In an effort to make Humboldt competitive with its neighbors, city council members took the first step in allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday mornings beginning at 9 o’clock.

“We can’t ask people to spend money in Humboldt unless we give them the option to do so,” said Mayor Nobby Davis at Monday evening’s meeting.

Dan Onnen of Freedom Liquor Store and Suzanne Whitcomb of Pete’s Convenience Store asked council members to make the change. 

State legislators approved the Sunday morning sales earlier this year, upon which cities must adopt ordinances specifying the change. Currently, Sunday sales do not begin until noon.

Onnen said that he was losing sales to those attending events away from home, “especially during the NFL season,” he said. Onnen said people have no option but to buy alcoholic beverages once they reach their destination, but if given the chance would likely purchase said beverages in Humboldt before they leave town.

Council members will vote at their July 12 meeting on whether to adopt an ordinance changing the time of sales. A 60-day waiting period then follows, allowing for protests before it becomes law.

One of the floats participating in the 2019 Water Wars parade soaks spectators.Register file photo

STREETS around the square will be closed for an 11 a.m. parade celebrating the Aug. 14 Water Wars.

After the parade, 12th Street will reopen for traffic but the other three will remain closed. Water Wars is sponsored by A Bolder Humboldt. 

Josh Works, a member of the organization, said members are expecting double the attendance from the 2019 event when approximately 1,000 attended. Water Wars was resurrected from 50-plus years ago and features water-themed attractions. 

Water Wars will return to Humboldt in August. The last event, in 2019, brought a large crowd and several activities. Register file photo
Water Wars will return to Humboldt in August. The last event, in 2019, brought a large crowd and several activities. Register file photo

The discussion to close the streets was not without controversy. 

Onnen protested Works’ request to close off New York Street, where Onnen’s liquor store sits square in the middle of the 800 block. 

“I lost hundreds of dollars in sales that day,” Onnen said of the 2019 event. “I’m all for A Bolder Humboldt, but I also have a business to run.”

Works found a workaround by proposing the liquor store provide some of the beverages needed for a nearby beer garden. 

Onnen readily agreed to the tradeoff.

Council members also agreed to close off the south side of Bridge Street between 7th and 8th Streets on Saturday and again on June 26 to make way for an auction by Allen County Realty.

Other business items included a discussion to renew a seven-year contract with JKS of Erie to collect garbage. The current seven-year contract with owner Kenny Schettler expires January of 2022. 

Fees would increase from $9.75 to $10.75 a month for residential; $14 to $15.25 a month for commercial service.

Council members spoke favorably of Schettler, saying, “He picks up far more than regular sanitation services, including couches and TVs.”

Members will vote on the issue at their next meeting.

IN OTHER news, the diving board at the municipal pool recently broke. Cole Herder, city administrator, said a replacement is on its way. 

“Typically they have a 10-year lifespan,” Herder said. This one was a few years shy of that. Cost of the new fiberglass board was $3,000.

The sale of old street signs has been a huge success, said Herder. So far, the city has sold approximately 250 of the 360 signs at $10 apiece. This tidy sum means the city “is approaching one-third of the cost” invested for 395 new street signs, in which the city spent $7,600.

The city learned it will receive $268,368.98 from the American Rescue Plan Act, an increase of nearly $21,000 from when it first learned of the gift meant to offset expenses incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of the funds are expected any day. The second half will arrive next year.

Council directed city attorney Fred Works to draw up an ordinance dictating meeting times will begin at 6 p.m. rather than at 7 p.m.

The next meeting is July 12, at 6 p.m.

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