New England bars are closing later: City passes ordinance to keep 2 pubs open until 2 a.m.
NEW ENGLAND — New England is now southwest North Dakota’s only town that allows its bars to stay open later — all two of them.
Last month, the New England City Council quietly approved extended hours for the bars, allowing them to stay open until 2 a.m. rather than 1 a.m. And, for the first time in more than a decade, New England has two bars in town: The B.A.R., which opened in December, and long-standing Golden West Bar.
The closing time statewide for bars is 1 a.m., but counties and cities can amend their local laws to extend bar hours to 2 a.m, according to a law passed in 2005.
The city council began discussing changing bar hours in February to accommodate pool tournaments, which often lasted past 1 a.m. at the Golden West Bar, council member Butch Frank said.
After inviting public comment, five council members unanimously passed the liquor ordinance adjustment in March, missing a sixth vote from Chris Fitterer, who was absent. But, New England Mayor Marty Opdahl officially neither signed nor vetoed the bill in April, Frank said, acknowledging its pros and cons.
The extended hours still became law in early April, despite the mayor’s ambivalence. Opdahl declined to comment on this story.
“We haven’t been very vocal with it because we want to keep an eye on it if it causes a problem,” Frank said.
Hettinger County Sheriff Sarah Warner said she is also indifferent about the new ordinance. Warner said she fears more cases of public intoxication or drunk driving from visitors in Stark County, but welcomes more business for the bars.
Dangerous intoxication has risen in the county in the past two years as its oil boom population has increased, Warner said.
“We haven’t seen anything really different from this yet though,” she said.
Jared Twogood, partner in the Golden West Bar, said his business has benefited from the option of later hours and customers have been happy to stay. The bar usually only stays open until 2 a.m. on busy weekends, as well as sometimes on Mondays and Tuesdays, he said.
“You’ll get the occasional (incident) like you will in any bar, but it’s been pretty smooth,” Twogood said.
The Golden West Bar is in the process of opening a full dining area. It now seats kitchen customers at the bar. Twogood said he hopes longer hours will help increase food sales as well.
The B.A.R. owner Steve LaFramboise declined to comment for this story.