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ASAP (Against Substance Abuse in Pope) County

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Against Substance Abuse in Pope (ASAP)

211 East Minnesota Avenue
Glenwood, MN 56334
 
Tel: 320-634-7835

 
Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF SIG) awarded to Pope County
 
Our Community has been given the opportunity to tackle underage drinking and high-risk alcohol use among youth and young adults in Pope County. A grant from the MN Department of Human Services Alcohol and Drug Division has been awarded to help us with these efforts.
 
The Risk in Pope County:
 
It’s great that Pope County has been awarded this grant, but unfortunately we received it because our past 30-day alcohol use and binge drinking rates among youth were well above the state averages. According to the 2010 Minnesota Student Survey results, 29% of Pope County 6th, 9th, and 12th graders reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, while the state average is only 20%. Also, 20% of 9th and 12th graders reported having 5 or more drinks in a row (binge) at least once in the past two weeks, while the state average is only 16%.
 
Fortunetly 3 out of 4 9th and 12th grade students reported not driving while intoxicated, but that does mean 25% of them are while the state average is only 10%. Besides traffic accidents and fatalities, alcohol brings higher crime rates, more vandalism, more expense in health care, and a higher cost to law enforcement. With the help of this grant and the concern within the community, the ASAP coalition was formed. 
 
 
ASAP and the community:
 
A community driven task force called ASAP was created in March of 2012. Members meet once a month to discuss possible ways underage drinking and high-risk alcohol use among youth and young adults can be decreased. Using the information gathered from surveys and conversations with community members, our group has identified the following 8 strategies to focus on this next year:

1. Establishing a Social Host Ordinance (SHO): Even though it is already illegal for youth under the age of 21 to drink alcohol and for adults to provide alcohol to those who are underage, a social host ordinance would penalize anyone who is caught providing a place for an underage drinking party, even if he or she did not provide the alcohol. It’s important to note that the host must have known or should have known that underage drinking was taking place. . It keeps property owners and tenants more accountable to what is happening in their presence or on their property, even if they aren’t directly serving alcohol to minors.

Update: The Social Host Ordinance is in progress. It is currently being looked at by our judicial system and by our County Attorney. 

2. Alcohol Compliance Checks: Tobacco compliance checks are mandated by the state but unfortunately alcohol compliance checks are not done even though it is a proven way to deter establishments from selling to minors. A compliance check involves sending a youth under the age of 21 into a liquor store and having them try to purchase an alcoholic drink. No trickery is used in the process. Minor buyers must be under the age of 21 (and look their age), and fake ID’s are not sued. If the establishment sells, they are subject to possible fines and suspension of their license. The primary goal of these checks is to protect the establishments from larger consequences or from being held responsible for any damage or loss of life due to an alcohol related accident.

Update: The County and City Police forces are currently working out the logistics of how to best accomplish this task. 2014 dates will be looked at soon.

3. Collect Place of Last Drink Data (POLD): POLD is being used throughout the county as a way to track where people are getting drunk before they get into their car. It helps law enforcement know where the troubled areas are and it also helps establishments create a safer environment. 

  Update: The POLD data collection sheet has been implemented into the court system. Each person who has been convicted of a DWI has necessary paperwork that needs to be filed out; this sheet is with the other paperwork. We will be collecting the sheets quarterly from the courts and analyzing the data. This data is not shared outside of the ASAP Coalition and is only used educationally. In 2014 the coalition will be looking at how to improve this data collection report to get more accurate data.

4. Responsible Beverage Server Training (RBST): This training will be held at least twice a year for all owners, managers and servers of liquor establishments. It is a free training that provides information about MN laws and regulations. It teaches servers how to identify intoxicated customers, pick out a fake ID, confront under-age youth and keeps them up-to-date on all current laws concerning alcohol serving.

Update: 3 Responsible Beverage Server Trainings have been conducted in Pope County quite a few times. The first one was done at The Lakeside Ballroom on September 25th, the second one followed at the Community room of the Glenwood Courthouse on October 23rd. The third and final one of 2013 was once again held at The Lakeside Ballroom on November 18th. They have been a huge success! In 2014 the Sheriff's Posse has been trained along with another community training which was held on May 20th. Another one, as was requested is being held for Caption's Bar and Grill on June 17th, 2014.

Community members who are trained and who have conducted RBST are: 

Kay Blauert, Jeff Ozanne, Shelley Svec, Jeannie Pederson, and Laura Backhaus   

5. Keg Registration: MN law states that a liquor establishment must register all kegs being sold to the public. Each keg has an identification code on it that identifies it from another. This is important when an underage drinking party happens, because law enforcement can go back to the liquor establishment and find out who purchased the keg. ASAP will be providing information to establishments about MN law and providing resources to make complying with this law easier.

Update: Packets of information have been given to all establishments in Pope County that sell Kegs. Each packet included resources about MN law and how to stay compliant. Keg ID tags and log books were also included. Evaluations have been sent to all keg selling establishments to see how the educational materials were received and if any more education is needed. 

6. Social Norms Campaign: Most high school students believe that everyone their age drinks; well, the truth is that, most don’t! This campaign promotes media messages that center around the positive. It’s getting the message out that actually most high school students find ways other than drinking to have a good time.

Update: We are working with Sara Thompson, a Marketing Consultant who is developing messages for campaigns geared towards youth, young adults, and parents in the Pope County area. You can hear radio ads on KIKfm out of Alexanria and KCLD out of Saint Cloud. You aren also see posters up at the high school and the Starbuck school.

7. Sticker Shock: Youth will be involved in a campaign that will provide information to liquor store customers about the dangers of buying alcohol for youth. Many Pope County youth are getting alcohol by having someone else purchase it for them. Youth are going to partner with local businesses and put stickers and information on alcoholic products around the community, because many adults aren’t aware off the consequences of providing alcohol to a minor.

Update: Sticker shock took place in March and was a great success! 18 Minnewaska students visited The Grog Shop, Minnewaska Liquor, and Water's Edge. They placed stickers on alcoholic products reminded community members that is a gross misdemeanor to provide alcohol to minors.    

8. Best Practices for Festivals and Public Events: Festivals are a great time to have fun in our community; unfortunately, it’s also a time that a lot of accidents and tragedies happen. There are proven practices that, if put into place at festivals, will decrease the amount of minor alcohol consumption. Thankfully, many festivals in Pope County already follow many of them. Some examples of best practices are:

  • Wrist bands for people over 21 years of age
  • Signs posted saying “We Card” and “no service to people under 21 year olds”
  • Limiting the number of beers that can be bought at one time
  • Fencing off designated areas for alcohol
  • Serving alcohol in a clear, see-through cup
  • Having visible law enforcement present

Update: Community festivals were observed this past summer. It was great to see so many best practices already in place! However, some festivals could use a few more best practices put into place. ASAP will be working with special event and volunteer groups to see how best these can be implemented in 2014.

These 8 strategies are not focused on decreasing or eliminating liquor sales. Our objective is to create a safer environment for our young people and to educate the community on the risks that under-age drinking and binge drinking causes.

There is a lot of work to be done in the coming year and we would love your help. If these strategies interest you and you would like to get involved, please contact Laura Backhaus at 320-634-7835 or laura.backhaus@co.pope.mn.us for more information.

 


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