Supes continue discussion of social host ordinance

The proposed social host ordinance continued to be discussed by the Greene County board of supervisors at their regular meeting on Sept. 9. Chair John Muir said, “It’s good to get clear guidelines” in the ordinance. “We don’t want to deter things like weddings.”

As written, the purpose of the proposed 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 21.” This extends state law which covers persons under 18. In Greene County, the proposed ordinance would include persons in the 18-21 age group.

The proposed ordinance states the board of supervisors “finds that persons under the age of 21 attend gatherings where alcoholic beverages, prescription drugs, or controlled substances are brought or made available…” and that persons in control of the premises are “are knowingly permitting alcohol, prescription drug, or substance use to occur…”

During the discussion of whether the proposed ordinance was written clearly enough to allow family gatherings with alcohol, county attorney Thomas Laehn and sheriff Jack Williams both assured the board that the ordinance was meant to be focused on “three habitual party-givers” in the county.

GreeneCountyNewsOnline asked how it would be determined that someone had knowingly allowed prohibited acts. Laehn and Williams said people under 21 would be interviewed and asked who had given them the alcohol or substances. Additionally, social media would be used to identify offenders through video or photographs posted of social gatherings.

“We’re trying to close the loophole for 18-, 19-, and 20-year olds,” said Williams. “It (the ordinance) will only take effect if there’s a problem.”

The ordinance states that it will “be in full force and effect after its final adoption and publication as provided by law.” There is not a selective law enforcement option that would exclude any gatherings, persons, or circumstances, except for four cases in which the ordinance would not apply: a landlord, a licensed premises, religious observances, or a parent/guardian allowing their own child to use alcohol “for beverage or for medicinal purpose.”

The proposed ordinance was written by county attorney Laehn. A copy of the draft of the proposed ordinance is available in the office of the county attorney.
The board did not take action on the proposed ordinance.

Mike Palmer, Jefferson city administrator, updated the board on progress concerning city of projects. He said auto-trash pick-up began last week with four routes which could drop to three, due to greater efficiency with the new system. The opening of The Forge had a good turnout. Work is progressing on store fronts downtown and there is progress on seal-coating alleys. Dirt work on the airport extension could be done this year. Bids for projects concerning the east entryway to the city and the sidewalk to the new high school could be let in January.

Greene County Ambulance director Michelle Madsen and Williams asked the board for appointment as medical examiner investigators for the county. Both have completed workshops recently that qualify them for the positions. Williams said the duties of the position require them to “gather information and submit it to the medical examiner” in the event of a death “in order to determine the cause of death.”

Dr Robert Clemons is the current medical examiner for the county, but he has now retired. Until another medical examiner is appointed, death reports from the new medical examiner investigators will be sent to the state.

The board spoke with representatives from Ahlers and Cooney by teleconference concerning bond issuance and procedures for financing the Career Academy. The board was advised to classify the project as “urban renewal” and to set a public hearing concerning the $5 million loan and issuance of general obligation bonds.
Ahlers and Cooney reps said the public must be given an opportunity to petition for an election approving the bond issue. An election on the matter would require a petition with a required number of signatures by the public.

Notice of the public hearing will be published at least 10 days prior to the hearing.

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