BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Excise police are known for breaking up parties in college towns like Bloomington, but Meadowood Retirement Community residents were a bit surprised when they received word from the agency they could no longer be served beer and wine at their weekly social hour.
Meadowood stopped the practice last month after excise police told officials there it could no longer serve its residents alcohol without a state liquor license from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. Officials there then told administrators at Bell Trace Independent Living and Assisted Living, which stopped its practice of serving wine at social hours.
"They're disappointed," Larry Diersing, Meadowood's administrator, told The Herald-Times. "But this will all work out."
The only drinks served to the 50 or more regular attendees now are soft drinks, punch and floats. But residents can bring their own booze if they want.
"We don't have any idea how this was reported to the excise police," Diersing said. "There are rumors swirling around, but all I know is that someone told them we were serving alcohol to our residents, and they came here to investigate."
Excise police Cpl. Travis Thickstun said facilities that want to serve alcohol must obtain a license. If a license is obtained, everyone serving alcohol would need a server's permit.
"Our corporate legal counsel is looking into our options right now," Diersing said. "In the meantime, residents can still bring their own alcohol to the social hour."
Joy Harter, executive director of Bell Trace's independent and assisted living facility, said residents there are disappointed.
"But they're handling it well. The social hour is still social. We provide soft drinks and punch and root beer floats, and residents can bring their own alcohol," she said.
Social hours during which alcohol is served are common in many senior independent living and assisted living facilities, but Thickstun said the excise police division relies on tips or complaints from individuals.
"We investigate every tip to find out what's going on," he said. "Depending on the nature of the violation, we may simply tell the establishment to fix the problem. Sometimes, the situation warrants an arrest or the issuance of a ticket."
In the assisted living building at the Hearthstone Health Campus in Bloomington, the Stardust Cafe hosts a weekly happy hour in which beer and wine are offered to residents unless alcohol has been ruled off limits by their doctors. The facility does not have a liquor license.
"This is their home," said Tammy Walker, Hearthstone Health Campus spokeswoman.
She said she is not concerned about the excise police shutting down the happy hour alcohol.
"We also serve snacks and nonalcoholic drinks," she said.
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