Tuesday evening as Aberdeen businessman Jeff Doty was telling Caledonia aldermen he wouldn’t be opening Cal-City Grocery because they denied him a variance to sell cold beer, the town was talking about one of its own who had been charged with selling it … illegally.
Early Sunday morning ABC agents raided the Caledonia home of attorney Steve Wallace where about 200 kids, many of them minors, attended a post-prom party. An undercover ABC agent purchased a $10 wristband from Wallace’s 18-year-old son, Colt Wallace, which allowed access to beer and liquor in the Wallace home.
Steve Wallace was charged with the sale of beer without a permit, possession of alcoholic beverages with the intent to sell without a permit and 10 counts of violation of the Social Host law, which makes a misdemeanor the selling of alcohol to minors from a home or private premises. A handful of minors were charged with possession of beer.
“My child threw a party and I didn’t know anything about it,” Steve Wallace said Wednesday morning. “I showed up and tried to stop it, and the police showed up. That’s about it.”
A student who attended said the party was a well-publicized event she knew about more than a week in advance, adding she did not see Steve Wallace at the party.
Agents seized numerous bottles of liquor and two kegs of beer at Wallace’s home.
If Wallace’s assertions of ignorance of the illicit activities in his home prove to be true — and we hope that is the case — he should consider himself a lucky man. To have known about this would have, in effect sanctioned something grossly irresponsible. Had one of these high school kids gone out and hurt themselves or someone else, it would have been tragic.
Ironically, Wallace is probating the estate of Bill Pearrow, former owner of Cal-City, who was able to sell cold beer. Years ago the store was granted a variance to the town ordinance prohibiting the sale of beer within 1,500 feet of a church. Because the store has been closed for two months, Caledonia Aldermen say the grandfathered variance is no longer in effect.
While we have no dog in the fight that is the Cal-City standoff — that’s for Mr. Doty and the aldermen to work out — we do worry about the consequences of underage drinking. And while kids will be kids, we urge mothers and fathers to worry less about being “cool” parents and more about being responsible parents. Joking about or sanctioning drinking by minors is neither responsible nor cool. And there’s nothing cool about the possible consequences of such.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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