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Archive for Saturday, December 19, 1998

CITY, COLLEGE OFFICIALS ATTACK ALCOHOL ABUSE

December 19, 1998

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Leaders at city hall, Kansas University and Haskell Indian Nations University are looking into ways to attack alcohol use and abuse.

Lawrence city commissioners made a New Year's resolution Friday morning: Do something to reduce alcohol abuse in Law-rence.

Now they just need to figure out what.

Commissioners accepted a report Friday morning from the Joint City-Universities Task Force on Alcohol Abuse Prevention.

The six-page document outlines 11 recommendations for attacking local problems involving alcohol abuse and underage drinking.

"It's all important, and it all needs to be implemented," Mayor Marty Kennedy said. "It's a major educational problem."

Among the suggestions:

  • Consider expelling students from Kansas University and Haskell Indian Nations University who "persistently violate" alcohol-related rules or laws.
  • Increase the fines for convictions of minors in possession of alcohol. Currently such fines are $200 per violation; those would increase to $300 for the first violation and $500 for each subsequent violation.
  • Encourage alternative events for those who are underage throughout the city, preferably in `cool' places.
  • Explore possibilities for opening a treatment and detoxification center in the Lawrence area, and for obtaining lab services to "promptly" test alcohol for evidentiary purposes in cases involving minors in possession.
  • Register and train all people employed to serve or sell alcoholic beverages in bars, restaurants or clubs.

Kennedy plans to meet early next month with KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and Haskell President Bob Martin to discuss the report in detail. The three then will organize a public presentation to expand on their joint objectives, Kennedy said.

The report also includes information from two surveys of students, plus conclusions reached by the 24-member task force.

Among those findings: More than half of university students in town reported "binge drinking" in the two-week period prior to being surveyed; more than 68 percent had had at least one drink during the previous 30 days; and more than half said they could "easily" obtain alcohol in bars.

Lower numbers were reported for students in public schools, but the message still proved worrisome for at least one commissioner.

"These findings are really overwhelming," Erv Hodges said. "Somehow, we as parents or grandparents have really failed somewhere along the way."

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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