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Opinion Brewing's liquor license in jeopardy

With a possible liquor license revocation looming, Opinion Brewing Company has been under the scrutiny of a fire marshal, building inspectors and the city council for several fire and building code violations.

Additionally, the Newport bar owned by Derrick and Autumn Lehrke owed over $26,000 in delinquent property taxes and operated without Workers' Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance.

The tax and insurance issues have been resolved, according to the city, but there are still a number of fire code violations on the property.

A fire inspector's report has asked the Lehrkes to add a third exit, fix electrical hazards and have additional electrical work completed.

The initial inspection was completed September 2016, and fire inspectors, building inspectors and fire marshals have been working with the Lehrkes to resolve issues since that time.

The owners denied not completing corrections to the building in a timely manner.

"Your statements of fact ... we dispute openly," Derrick Lehrke said.

"We're just trying to keep doing business, so if there's something we're not doing that the city of Newport isn't happy with, we're just happy to stop doing that and continue on what is acceptable," Lehrke added.

Derrick Lehrke is a former Cottage Grove City Council member, Autumn Lehrke a former Washington County commissioner.

Since new issues have been revealed by a recent architect's report, the city council on May 18 gave the Lehrkes more time to make corrections.

"Until this (city council agenda) packet came out and we saw this architect's report... I had not seen them before, and council had not seen them before," council member Tracy Rahm said. "So those are additional issues that have been brought up here on the engineering report. So I think the Lehrkes do need some time — I don't know what — to get these things done."

The public hearing was left open, and will continue at the June 15 city council meeting.

If steps toward the corrections are not underway by that time, the city council can pull the liquor license.

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