LUSK – Changes to a city ordinance which would have allowed people who aren’t allowed to legally drink to accompany adults into bars which serve food died on third reading Tuesday before the Lusk City Council.
The council considered third and final reading of Ordinance No. 8-15-150. The ordinance had been amended to read: “This ordinance does not apply to persons under the age of 21 years when such persons are in the dispensing room for lunch or supper only, provided that said person is accompanied by a person 21 years of age or older; and provided further that the same be allowed only between the hours of 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. In no case may a person under 21 years be seated or standing at the serving bar (bar top) nor may any person under the age of 21 years be permitted to consume alcohol. Smoking shall not be allowed on licensed premises between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.”
Several Lusk residents, including school officials and business owners, addressed the council both in favor of and against the proposed ordinance changes. Lindsey Gill from the Prevention Coalition, which works to prevent substance abuse by young people, expressed her opposition to the ordinance amendment.
While she understands the economic perspective, from a substance abuse prevention perspective, Ms. Gill called the proposed ordinance inappropriate, given the number of adolescents who engage in underage drinking.
Joel Richardson, School Board President, was unable to attend the meeting, but presented his opposition to the amended ordinance in a letter to the council which was read by Mayor Douglas Lytle.
“This ordinance is not in the best interests of our youth,” Richardson wrote. “It is our job as a community to help them make healthy decisions and the environment found in a bar is not one in which healthy decision making or habits are modeled.”
George Mirich, School Superintendent, also spoke in opposition to the amendment. He feels the primary concern with the amendment is it allows anyone 21 or older to accompany the minor. Mirich said he didn’t think the restrictions were strong enough.
Tom Wasserburger, owner and operator of the Pioneer Court Best Western, said he supported the ordinance because it would be good both for his business and for the community.
“A dining experience is part of a stay,” he said. “Pass this and we have more choices for guests coming into the community. Businesses need this option especially in the summer.”
Stephanie Scott, the manager of The Silver Dollar Bar and Grill, also told the council she supported the amendments. Ms. Scott said parents remain in control of their children’s exposure to the environment of the establishment.
If parents don’t want their minor child to be taken in the bar by someone else, that is between the parent and the child. Ms.Scott also said, as a business owner, she would not allow a minor to walk in on his or her own. The minor would need to enter the establishment with someone over 21.
Ms. Scott has spoken in support of the amendment at previous Council meetings.
Chief of the Lusk Police Department Bo Krein said the wording of the ordinance could pose an enforcement issue, since a minor could say they were with someone in the bar, but that person might not actually be responsible for them. It would be difficult to determine whether the individual had responsibility over the minor at the consent of the parents, he said.
When Mayor Lytle called for a motion for the third reading of the ordinance as amended the third reading died for lack of motion. For the time being, Ordinance No. 8-15-150 will remain the way it was and minors will not be allowed in bars for any reason.
Attempts to contact members of the Town Council were unsuccessful as of press time Wednesday.