Social host law aims to ‘make people think’
The third and final reading of a social host ordinance was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors today, giving law enforcement the ability to impose civil fines on adults hosting a gathering where alcohol is served to minors or providing alcohol to anyone under age 21.
Violations will be a $750 civil fine for first offense and a $1,000 civil fine for second and subsequent offenses.
A final public hearing on the ordinance today drew no comments.
“This does not take effect today,” said Assistant County Attorney Pat McAvan. “Like any ordinance, it becomes law 60 days after [legal] publication.”
Supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt said he had a conversation with a resident concerned the ordinance was a revenue-generating device.
“It’s not,” Dimmitt said. “The amount of a civil fine probably is not sufficient to cover the man hours involved.”
Jefferson County Sheriff Gregg Morton agreed.
“It’s not intended to make money,” said Morton.
Supervisor Dick Reed said the ordinance is trying to make people think before acting.
“I would hope you never have to write a ticket for this,” Reed said.
Dimmitt said his conversation with the resident included the idea that educating citizens would be a proper step to take.
“I invited him to attend the [alcohol substance abuse] task force meetings,” said Dimmit.
“The education component carries much further than law enforcement,” said Don Sanders, director of the task force.
State Rep. Curtis Hanson attended the public hearing and ordinance reading and commended the supervisors for approving it.
Last week, Morton proposed hiring two temporary, part-time deputies in the sheriff’s department while he searched for candidates to fill two full-time deputy spots.
“It didn’t go quite as planned,” Morton told supervisors today. “I’ll still hire [two former Fairfield police officers] Kris Metcalf, Eldon’s chief of police, and Dale Squires, a part-time policeman in Richland. I will make them Reserve deputies. They won’t work a set schedule, but fill-in as needed and be paid at the lowest hourly rate as I said last week.”
The civil service law requires employees be hired off a list of candidates that have tested and applied for a position. By adding the two to the Reserves, they can work as needed for the sheriff.
Morton will use the temporary Reserve deputies to fill in when one of his staff deploys with the Army National Guard for a year and while two new-hires are sent to the law enforcement academy.
“I have two candidates to fill the full-time vacancies in the department,” said Morton. “We interviewed six candidates, and these two both have college degrees in criminal justice. They will have to be trained and sent to the academy for certification.”
Morton said Jacob Riley of Burlington and Justin Smith of Mount Pleasant will begin duties Sept. 9, at the base rate of $44,649 per year.
These two new, full-time hires are filling spots left by the resignation of Josh Tarrence and the retirement of Sheriff Jerry Droz and Morton’s promotion to sheriff. The hires will bring the department to full strength.
Work began today on the bridge deck on Brookville Road over Mitchell Creek and supervisors received calls about dust on the detour route.
“The road is closed at the bridge and detour signs are going up,” said county engineer Scott Cline. “Dust control will happen tomorrow along the detour route in front of residences, at corners and intersections. I’ll go out today and check that the detour signs are up and make sure signs are placed far enough in advance of the bridge.”
Cline left the supervisors meeting after his report to check out the bridge situation.