Public drinking ends Thanksgiving Day

Sean C. Morgan

A new city ordinance banning drinking in public will take effect Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26.

The City Council adopted the ordinance during its regular meeting on Oct. 27 following three readings at three different council meetings.

The ordinance will prohibit drinking and open containers of alcohol in the city’s streets, sidewalks, alleys and other public places, such as the City Hall parking lot.

Earlier in the year, the council adopted an ordinance banning the use of alcohol in city parks and limiting smoking to designated areas, the parking lots. Park users may receive a permit from the city manager to allow the consumption of alcohol in parks.

“At the parks, we’re really trying to educate people,” said Police Chief Jeff Lynn. Police have not cited anyone or excluded anyone from city parks at this point. “Eventually, if we have repeat contacts, it’ll move into more an enforcement aspect, citing them into Municipal Court.”

Violations of both ordinances are treated as violations, which are handled by the Sweet Home Municipal Court. Violators may be fined.

Lynn said that officers will begin by educating people about the new ordinance just the way they have been with the parks ordinance.

“Hopefully, we’ll get cooperation through the education,” he said.

Lynn said there hasn’t been a “huge” amount of activity in the parks, but School Resource Officer Geoff Hamlin has been going out to Sankey Park regularly, and officers are taking calls there.

Hamlin and Lynn responded to a report of a female with an open container at Sankey Park.

“We educated her on the rules,” Lynn said. “She apologized. She was compliant, and she left the area.”

Looking forward at the new ordinance, “I don’t anticipate seeing an increase in enforcement,” Lynn said. “We’ve already started the education process, so it’s not going to be a surprise.

“I think it’ll have a positive impact on the perception of problems in our community.”

Anyone with questions about the new ordinances may call the Police Department at (541) 367-5181.