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Missing beer investigation results in no charges

Craft beers local to Grand Rapids and Michigan.

The investigation into four to five kegs worth of missing beer at Fountain Hill Brewery has not resulted in any charges against students or former staff. New staff are instructing the program this year.

The beer was reported missing by head instructor John Stewart on Dec. 6, 2016 according to a police report obtained by The Collegiate under the Freedom of Information Act. Campus police interviewed students, staff, and faculty before closing the case after investigators were unable to definitively prove the alleged amount of missing beer was in fact missing.

GRCC Police Chief Rebecca Whitman and Officer Thomas Stasiak responded to the office of the Dean of the School of Workforce Development Dec. 9 after four to five kegs of beer were reported missing. The three instructors for the program, all 12 students, and janitorial staff were questioned by campus police during the investigation. When the program’s 12 students arrived at class they were informed that they would not be taking the exam and would be speaking with campus police instead. Each student was taken individually to speak with Chief Whitman and an associate dean.

According to the police report, Stewart, the head instructor, stated he had checked the quantity of beer in the kegs on Nov. 30. Over the course of the next two days, records show that 135 beer sales were made, falling far short of the estimated 570 pints worth of beer suspected missing.

In Whitman’s final report obtained by The Collegiate, Stewart’s method of lifting the kegs to estimate remaining volume is not exact enough to determine if the alleged volume of beer missing could be accurate, or even if a substantial amount of beer was ever missing from the program.

“I am not convinced the process used by John Stewart to determine how much beer was in the kegs and available for sale prior to opening on Thursday is specific enough to be certain there is or was 4.5 kegs of beer unaccounted for,” Whitman said in the report.

In the wake of the investigation, none of the three instructors from last year are employed at the college.

“With regard to faculty, one resigned and two are not returning next semester, so the college is in the process of filling these positions.” said Leah Nixon, Director of Communications for GRCC.

Stewart, the former lead instructor, could not be reached for a comment about his resignation from the program.

A statement from incoming GRCC President Bill Pink projects optimism about the future of the program at the college.

“We are looking forward to a great semester with the brewing operations certificate program, and are excited about our faculty, staff, and students who are now on campus for the program,” Pink stated. “We’ve made some improvements to the way we record and track our product, and I’m confident that our program will be better for these improvements.”

The matter has been turned over to the School of Workforce Development for further investigation and review of processes.



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