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Montana Change Project pushes social host law

 


Project pushes social host law

Rich Jespersen, the person who launched operations at the Hill County office of the Montana Change Project in early 2009, is back in the saddle, working to wrap up the project's work.

Jespersen, who resigned as program officer in June 2009, returned on Monday. He said he will be working 30 hours a week.

The project is designed to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and its consequences.

The grant that funds the project will expire in May, and the work will be taken over by volunteers, Jespersen said.

Jespersen said he will be working for a smooth transition to the volunteer takeover.

Tim Maroney, a member of the project's board of directors, said he was glad to have Jespersen back on the job.

A major goal facing the group, he said, will be adoption of a social host ordinance in the city of Havre.

Maroney said members of the City Council's Ordinance Committee have been contacted, and are open to the idea of the ordinance, though they have questions and concerns.

Cities such as Helena have already adopted such legislation.

Under the social host ordinance, people who host parties where alcohol is served to people under 21 would be subject to fines, he said.

"The intent is to provide police with another tool in preventing underage drinking," he said.

"People are becoming aware of the fact that we need to help young people make positive choices," he said.

He said there is widespread concern that underage drinking results in violent behavior, drunken driving and other physical and psychological problems for young people, he said.

The law would prohibit parents from hosting parties where alcohol is served, he said, but would also affect 21-year-olds who buy alcohol or provide places where young people can drink.

State law prohibits counties from passing similar laws, Maroney said, but the Montana Legislature will consider legislation that would change that.

The project board will meet at noon, Wednesday, at the St. Jude Thaddeus Church Parish Center, Jespersen said. The public is encouraged to attend.

Rich Jespersen, the person who launched operations at the Hill County office of the Montana Change Project in early 2009, is back in the saddle, working to wrap up the project's work.

Jespersen, who resigned as program officer in June 2009, returned on Monday. He said he will be working 30 hours a week.

The project is designed to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and its consequences.

The grant that funds the project will expire in May, and the work will be taken over by volunteers, Jespersen said.

Jespersen said he will be working for a smooth transition to the volunteer takeover.

Tim Maroney, a member of the project's board of directors, said he was glad to have Jespersen back on the job.

A major goal facing the group, he said, will be adoption of a social host ordinance in the city of Havre.

Maroney said members of the City Council's Ordinance Committee have been contacted, and are open to the idea of the ordinance, though they have questions and concerns.

Cities such as Helena have already adopted such legislation.

Under the social host ordinance, people who host parties where alcohol is served to people under 21 would be subject to fines, he said.

"The intent is to provide police with another tool in preventing underage drinking," he said.

"People are becoming aware of the fact that we need to help young people make positive choices," he said.

He said there is widespread concern that underage drinking results in violent behavior, drunken driving and other physical and psychological problems for young people, he said.

The law would prohibit parents from hosting parties where alcohol is served, he said, but would also affect 21-year-olds who buy alcohol or provide places where young people can drink.

State law prohibits counties from passing similar laws, Maroney said, but the Montana Legislature will consider legislation that would change that.

The project board will meet at noon, Wednesday, at the St. Jude Thaddeus Church Parish Center, Jespersen said. The public is encouraged to attend.

 

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