BLOOMINGTON — The McLean County state’s attorney’s office is looking into liquor license issues related to a weekend party at a rural Lexington barn where an Illinois State University student was burned in a bonfire accident.
ISU senior Lauren Bucaro of Carol Stream is recovering at a Chicago-area burn unit from injuries she suffered when she fell into a fire Saturday night at Pleasant View Farm south of Lexington. University spokesman Jay Groves said ISU has been told by Bucaro’s family that the injuries are not serious and she could be back at school next week.
The 21-year-old was attending a barn dance hosted by Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Authorities said she had been drinking.
Pablo Eves, with the civil division of the state’s attorney’s office, said his office is researching what licenses University Liquors of Normal obtained as a third-party vendor in charge of alcohol sales at the event attended by 200 students. At issue is whether the business needed a special event license from the county for the party.
University Liquors owner Ricky Rakolia said Tuesday he does not believe he needs the county license.
“You don’t need that one. ISU wants the town license and the state license. That’s it,” said the owner.
McLean County’s liquor control ordinance requires a Class F retailer’s license for special events where alcohol is sold.
ISU requires student organizations to submit a written agreement with several requirements for the vendor, including a state license and a temporary liquor license for the function.
The business also is responsible for checking identifications and designating guests who are at least 21 by wristbands or other means. Students who are intoxicated are not to be served, according to the rules.
The Pleasant View Farm, owned by Sam Payne, is within the county’s jurisdiction. Payne said Monday that his party barn business follows guidelines spelled out by ISU.
“I am 100 percent legal. I absolutely follow all the rules,” said Payne.
Payne said he relies on vendors to comply with liquor ordinances and monitoring of underage drinkers.
“I push the risk away from me,” said the property owner.
The sorority followed ISU rules for registering the event that involves alcohol with the school, said Groves. But Groves said he was “disappointed that the sorority didn’t tell us about the incident right away.”
He said the sorority notified its national representatives, who were slow in getting the information to ISU.
Concerns about the incident at Pleasant View Farm spread to Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington this week.
Members of the Sigma Chi fraternity canceled plans for a November barn dance at the farm, said George Freeman, an adviser for the fraternity’s alumni group.
“They pulled the plug on the event because they said it’s not safe,” Freeman said of a decision students made after a meeting Monday to discuss the issue.
Saturday’s incident also remains under investigation by the McLean County Sheriff’s Department, which responded to the scene with medical personnel, according to Sheriff Mike Emery.