Supervisors approve first reading of Social Host Ordinance addressing underage drinking

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, September 18 to address a full agenda of items including the Public Hearing for the Social Host and Civil Cost Recovery Ordinance, Consideration of LP gas bids and the Acknowledgment of the Secondary Roads Department Annual Report for Fiscal-Year 2017.

Chairperson Larry Schellhammer called the meeting to order and the current agenda and the meeting minutes of September 11 and 15 were approved. There was no Public Comment.

The Supervisors moved into the Public Hearing for the Social Host and Civil Cost Recovery Ordinance with SPF-SIG Coordinator Maxine Grotegut of Allamakee Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) advising that the ordinance was drafted by Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler. Grotegut explained that parents or individuals allowing alcohol consumption by those underage on their property would be charged for the cost of the emergency and law enforcement response and be fined $500 for the first offense and $750 for a second offense. Grotegut also presented a list of signatures from parents who are in support of the ordinance. (See ASAP's "The Power of Prevention" column at left for additional information).

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick and Assistant Allamakee County Attorney Anthony Gericke discussed the use of a breathalyzer test and other evidence used in the prosecution of these cases. Coordinator Jean Bossom of ASAP discussed that some parents within the County may believe it is safer to allow underage drinking on their property to avoid drunk driving accidents, but other negative outcomes can still happen including shootings, injuries from falls, sexual assaults and alcohol poisoning. Bossom discussed the expense that will be incurred by parents and property owners for the emergency and law enforcement used in dealing with underage drinking.

Mellick commented that the mentality exists that it is safer to allow underage drinking on private property, acting more like a friend than a parent. The public hearing was then closed, and the first reading of the Social Host and Civil Cost Recovery Ordinance was approved. Schellhammer and Supervisors Dan Byrnes and Dennis Koenig approved the first reading and were in agreement to add the second reading of the ordinance to next week's agenda with the option to waive the third reading and to vote on adoption.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer discussed the next agenda item involving a request for tax suspension indicating that a property owner has contacted the County Auditor's Office and that a letter explaining the situation has been written but not yet received. Byrnes recommended that more information is needed and that the Board wait until the letter is received. No action was taken.

Mellick addressed the next agenda item involving a personnel update in the Allamakee County Sheriff's Office. Mellick advised that Revelyn Lonning has submitted a retirement letter, with September 29 as her last scheduled day of work. Mellick indicated that Lonning has served the County Sheriff's Department for 38 years and that she has expressed a willingness to volunteer and help in the front office. The retirement letter from Revelyn Lonning was accepted by the Supervisors.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed that a total of 30,000 gallons of LP gas to be used by Secondary Roads Department, County Conservation, Solid Waste and Recycling and the County Sheriff's Department has been put up for bid. Byrnes read aloud the five bids received, with the low bid from Welch Inc. at 95 cents per gallon for a bid total of $28,500 being approved.

Ridenour presented a summary of the Secondary Roads Department Annual Report for Fiscal-Year 2017 indicating that this report of receipts and expenses is filed yearly with the Iowa State Department of Transportation (IDOT) before the September 15 deadline, which has been done. Ridenour provided an overview of the expenses and funds received. The Supervisors acknowledged the report.

As routine financial matters, the Supervisors reviewed and approved transfers of $340,638.19 from the Rural Services Fund and $30,297.70 from the General Fund to the Secondary Roads Department.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour discussed receiving dust complaints on gravel roads due to the dry weather and that routine ditch cleaning has been ongoing with this likely being the last week of spraying brush. Ridenour indicated that in a few weeks sand hauling will begin in preparation for winter.

Mellick discussed the chlorination of the water at the Public Safety Center and that only metal desks and a safe remain in the upstairs office area of the County Courthouse formerly occupied by the Sheriff's Department. The Supervisors briefly discussed inventorying those items and allowing the public to bid on them, which will be added to next week's agenda.

Beyer advised that school elections are done and this Friday is the deadline for city office candidates to declare for that upcoming election.

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