Council gives preliminary OK on social host ordinance
Havre City Council approved the first reading of what appeared to be the most popular ordinance ever at Monday's meeting.
The meeting was preceded, at 6:30 p. m., by a public hearing, where council members sought the thoughts and feelings on the social host ordinance, before they voted on it and passed the first reading unanimously.
The room was packed.
More than 30 members of diverse organizations across Havre came to express support for the ordinance — from Havre High School freshman Nikki Gabrielsen to former District Court Judge David Rice.
"When adults provide a place to drink or alcohol to drink, it gets harder to say no, " Gabrielsen said. "I'm all for it. I think it's a great idea. I just want my friends to be safe. "
City Prosecutor Tammi Barkus spoke specifically to the concerns of students.
"When I started, I expected college parties, " Barkus said. "I expected high school parties. I did not expect middle school parties. I did not expect, last year, prosecuting a fourth-grader for minor in possession. This is not a policing issue. This is not a parenting issue. This is a community issue. It is a serious problem in Havre. "
After a half dozen speakers came forward to share their support, and the half-hour set aside for such opinion drew to a close, Mayor Tim Solomon called for a show of hands.
Every one of the 33 people that voted, said they supported it.
Among the council members, the decision seemed easy.
Andrew Brekke said he had received no negative comments about the ordinance.
Bob Kaul had heard some concerns about it, but those were only a quarter of his feedback.
Cal Long said he had "received many, many talking-tos adamantly against it, " but voted in support.
The ordinance will see its final reading in the next council meeting, on Monday, May 2.