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Hubbard County passes 'social host' criminal ordinance

Hubbard County passed a "social host" ordinance Wednesday, what authorities call one more tool in the arsenal to curb underage drinking.

It would make the adult host of a party at which alcohol is knowingly served to minors criminally responsible for allowing that party to take place.

Hubbard joined a raft of other counties in passing such an ordinance, which would not make parents liable for allowing their children to drink at home with their permission.

Hubbard County chemical dependency coordinator Sara Bowles thanked the county board.

The ordinance will be enforceable upon publication.

"It's important to get the message across," Bowles said.

"It reaffirms that we're tired of it," board chair Lyle Robinson agreed.

"Hubbard County has a higher than average state rate of underage consumption," said Sheriff Frank Homer. "Those 14, 15, 16-year olds drinking are going to have alcohol problems later in life."

Such ordinances "have been in the metro area quite awhile," said Park Rapids Police Chief Terry Eilers. "It has helped communities to cut down on house parties. It helps us look serious with this problem we have."

It will make hosting a party at which underage drinkers are served a misdemeanor.

Anyone 18 years old or older can be held liable for hosting an event that permits or promotes illegal alcohol use by minors.

In other business, the board:

n Learned that a meal contract for the jail and Meals on Wheels was never bid and is not enforceable.

Homer had asked the board to renew the contract with Roseville-based caterer A'viands, but the board balked until the county attorney had reviewed it.

"I can't see where it's ever been bid out," Don Dearstyne told the board. "It's null and void."

Board members had previously objected when former Sheriff Gary Mills renewed the contract two years ago without soliciting bids as required by law.

"I'd like to keep the same caterer," Mills told the board at the time. "Things are running smoothly."

Homer reiterated that the caterer is a good company to work with, but commissioners said the contract must be bid, not simply awarded.

n Agreed to revamp the online permitting system for septic system contractors because of software problems.

"Few people are able to use it properly," Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf said.

Collecting money for permits became problematic, he said.

"Let's find some software that works," commissioner Dick Devine said.

Commissioners authorized the ESO to get a new program up and running by the spring 2011 construction season.

n Awarded a transfer station surveying contract to Arro of Park Rapids.

Both Arro and Lindow Surveying, which are embroiled in a bitter battle over trade secrets that resulted in Arro's former manager being criminally charged, submitted identical bids of $3,100.

Commissioners, on the recommendation of solid waste supervisor Vern Massie, agreed to award the bid to Arro. But commissioner Cal Johannsen wondered if the business shouldn't be spread around to all local firms.

The county's demolition dumpsites are periodically surveyed to determine how much waste is being stored.

n Agreed to pay quarterly storm sewer bills of $288.71 to the city for county-owned property that has undergone sewer upgrades as a result of recent construction projects.

n Approved the purchase of a new backhoe at the transfer station for $72,523 and certification of three solid waste attendants that can be added to the roster of available part-time help.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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