Supervisors see draft of social host ordinance

~by Janice Harbaugh for GreeneCountyNewsOnline

The safety of residents in Greene County was discussed at the regular meeting of the Greene County board of supervisors on Aug. 26. County attorney Thomas Laehn presented the draft of an ordinance “regarding the provision of alcoholic beverages, prescription drugs, and controlled substances to persons under the age of 21 within Greene County, Iowa.”

Commonly called a “social host ordinance,” the proposed ordinance would extend Iowa law in Greene County to cover persons aged 18 to 21. Current Iowa Code concerning alcohol applies only to people under the age of 18. Laehn said Iowa Code only applies to alcohol, but the proposed ordinance would apply to prescription medications and controlled substances as well. Infraction of the proposed county ordinance would be considered a civil matter.

The purpose of the ordinance is “to reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages, prescription drugs that have not been lawfully dispensed, and controlled substances by persons under the age of twenty-one.” Under the proposed ordinance, this would be accomplished by making owners/lessees of property responsible for violations that occur on the property if the owner/lessee knowingly permitted consumption of alcohol or substances by persons age 18 to 21.

The proposed ordinance states civil penalties of $750 for a first violation and $1000 for each subsequent violation. Violations can be “considered by the county when determining whether or not to approve an application for a license submitted by a person found in violation of the ordinance.”

There are provisions in the proposed ordinance to cover landlords, people under 21 who handle alcoholic beverages as part of their job, religious observances, medicinal purposes, and beverages in the home with parental permission.

Supervisors questioned Laehn about specific circumstances such as weddings, family picnics, and other social gatherings. Definitions of “knowingly provided” and “knowingly permitted” were explored.

No action was taken on the draft ordinance. Copies of the draft can be reviewed at the county attorney’s office.

In other business, county sanitarian Chuck Wenthold and county conservation director Dan Towers reported on the fish kill in Hardin Creek last week, involving 10 stream miles starting near the bridge on Highway 4 north of Jefferson and continuing almost to where the stream enters the Raccoon River. A biologist walked the creek counting dead fish and took water samples. Wenthold said some frogs and a turtle were also found dead. He added that brown algae bloom is a possibility, but more will be known when the water sample test results come back.

Towers also updated the supervisors on progress to the Raccoon River Valley Trail bridge repair south of Jefferson over the Raccoon River. A 70-foot span was damaged by ice this past spring, rendering the trail impassable over the river. Towers has been working through FEMA to fund repairs. There is now a suggestion to replace a second 70-foot span to prevent future ice damage. Bids will be let in December for the project and work could possibly begin this winter while the river is at lower level, Towers said.

The board approved the hiring of Kim Christensen as part-time secretary in the sheriff’s office at the rate of $15 per hour.

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