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Panel hears pros, cons of social host law

 


Panel hears pros, cons of social host law

Zach White

Four members of the Hill County Coalition for Rethinking Drinking spoke to the Havre City Council Ordinance Committee Tuesday about the importance of a social host ordinance for Havre.

With Rich Jespersen, coalition director, running a slideshow, the presentation began with coalition member Tim Maroney telling the committee about the dangers of underage drinking.

County Attorney Gina Dahl spoke next about the legal ramifications of the ordinance, and how it's been enforced in many other cities across Montana and in other states.

Sandra Wilson, Havre Public School's head of Indian Education, addressed frequently asked questions, including those about parental rights and underage drinking as a major problem in itself, rather than the cause of future problems.

Wilson explained how adolescent drinking can hinder development. She said it has been difficult for her, seeing problems in her own sister's life.

Throughout the presentation, the coalition members addressed questions from the committee members and a few audience members.

Councilwoman Janet Trethewey seemed concerned that the ordinance could merely drive underage drinking into the county, either in the mountains in Beaver Creek Park or merely in a stranger's field.

Councilman Cal Long wondered about the "subjectivity" of the wording in some of the sample ordinances and its effect on the city's ability to prosecute the crime.

Dahl responded that these issues have not really shown up in other cities with these ordinances.

Brad Lotton asked about concerns of liability felt by his fellow landlords in the local landlords association.

"We're worried about sticking our necks out there for liability, when we already have plenty of neck out there, " Lotton said.

Tony Dolphay, owner of Havre Muffler & Brake and a concerned local parent, was concerned about the liability of having his own children alone with his alcohol at home.

Dahl assured the two that the ordinance would not raise problems, but would in fact help protect parents and landlords caught in these situations.

Because this was the first time the committee had seen the presentation, they agreed to deliberate on what they'd talked about and look into possible issues in which to take action at a future meeting.

Toward the end of the meeting at least half of the committee favored the ordinance, including Councilwoman Pam Hillery.

"You want to have a toolbox, " Hillery said. "You want to be able to deal with issues that affect the city. We will talk about this and get as much input as we can to make this right for the city. "

Four members of the Hill County Coalition for Rethinking Drinking spoke to the Havre City Council Ordinance Committee Tuesday about the importance of a social host ordinance for Havre.

With Rich Jespersen, coalition director, running a slideshow, the presentation began with coalition member Tim Maroney telling the committee about the dangers of underage drinking.

County Attorney Gina Dahl spoke next about the legal ramifications of the ordinance, and how it's been enforced in many other cities across Montana and in other states.

Sandra Wilson, Havre Public School's head of Indian Education, addressed frequently asked questions, including those about parental rights and underage drinking as a major problem in itself, rather than the cause of future problems.

Wilson explained how adolescent drinking can hinder development. She said it has been difficult for her, seeing problems in her own sister's life.

Throughout the presentation, the coalition members addressed questions from the committee members and a few audience members.

Councilwoman Janet Trethewey seemed concerned that the ordinance could merely drive underage drinking into the county, either in the mountains in Beaver Creek Park or merely in a stranger's field.

Councilman Cal Long wondered about the "subjectivity" of the wording in some of the sample ordinances and its effect on the city's ability to prosecute the crime.

Dahl responded that these issues have not really shown up in other cities with these ordinances.

Brad Lotton asked about concerns of liability felt by his fellow landlords in the local landlords association.

"We're worried about sticking our necks out there for liability, when we already have plenty of neck out there, " Lotton said.

Tony Dolphay, owner of Havre Muffler & Brake and a concerned local parent, was concerned about the liability of having his own children alone with his alcohol at home.

Dahl assured the two that the ordinance would not raise problems, but would in fact help protect parents and landlords caught in these situations.

Because this was the first time the committee had seen the presentation, they agreed to deliberate on what they'd talked about and look into possible issues in which to take action at a future meeting.

Toward the end of the meeting at least half of the committee favored the ordinance, including Councilwoman Pam Hillery.

"You want to have a toolbox, " Hillery said. "You want to be able to deal with issues that affect the city. We will talk about this and get as much input as we can to make this right for the city. "

 

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