Social host ordinance scheduled to go before City Council this summer
On the 'Net
To take a survey about a proposed social host ordinance in Moffat County, visit www.grandfutures.org.
Local groups looking to reduce underage drinking are banking on community presentations this spring to help fuel passage of a new ordinance.
About six members of the Youth Wellness Initiative and the Moffat County branch of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition met Tuesday to plan a series of community appearances by John Underwood, American Athletic Institute founder.
Interest in passing a social host ordinance in Steamboat Springs was revived after Underwood, whose company counsels athletes about the dangers of drug and alcohol use, made a similar presentation in Steamboat in May.
The ordinance would have imposed penalties, including jail time, for adults who host underage drinkers on their property. The measure would not cite residents if minors trespass to drink on their property.
The power of Underwood's presentation lies in its focus on how alcohol affects the body, according to Matt Beckett, Grand Futures' Moffat County director.
"A lot of it's based on science, and it's really kind of difficult to argue with science," Beckett said. "It's not about beliefs or opinions."
Not everyone shares Beckett's confidence that such an ordinance is necessary.
"I think you've got laws in place right now," Craig Mayor Don Jones said. "All you've got to do is enforce them."
Grand Futures and the Youth Wellness Initiative in Moffat County - which recently became a task force of Grand Futures to eliminate service duplication between the two groups, Beckett stated in an e-mail - have tentatively planned to bring Underwood to Craig from March 30 to April 3.
Underwood could speak to city counselors, Moffat County commissioners, parents and students, Beckett said, adding that these details have not been set in stone.
Costs of hiring Underwood are estimated at about $5,000. Grand Futures and the Youth Wellness Initiative put in a grant application for that sum to Yampa Valley Community Foundation. The local group granted Grand Futures half of its request.
Grand Futures and Wellness Initiative members plan to solicit donations from Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and other local organizations to secure the remaining $2,500, Beckett said.
Underwood's presentations won't guarantee that a social host ordinance will pass in Craig.
A similar measure in Steamboat failed in a 3-to-3 vote at a Steamboat Springs City Council meeting in December. One councilor was absent for the vote. A previous bid for a social host ordinance fell in 2006.
Beckett thinks Moffat County has a better chance of passing an ordinance that cites adults for allowing minors to drink on their property.
He pointed to Craig's municipal court as an entity that could impose penalties to those who violate the ordinance.
Craig's municipal court issues fines for traffic violations, City Manager Jim Ferree said, but it also can penalize people who break certain city ordinances.
He added that he couldn't say whether the municipal court would fine adults who host underage drinkers.
Craig's municipal court could mete out jail sentences for violation of a social host ordinance, Craig City Attorney Kenny Wohl said.
But Beckett doesn't know yet whether penalties for violating the host ordinance would include jail time.
"We'll just kind of see where it takes us," he said.
Grand Futures and the Youth Wellness Initiative plan to lobby the City Council in June or July to consider instituting a social host ordinance in Craig.
Grand Futures has posted a survey on its Web site, www.grandfutures.org, to gather community input on a proposed social host ordinance.