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Old River-Winfree upholds teen curfew

By BOBBY HORN JR.
OLD RIVER-WINFREE—With school closing for the summer next week teenagers traditionally take advantage of the summer hours to stay out late at night. In the City of Old River-Winfree this could mean a possible violation of a city ordinance and a fine up to $500.
Last week the Old River Winfree City Council upheld a city ordinance that created a juvenile curfew between midnight and 4 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays. Weekend hours (Friday and Saturday) are1 to 4 a.m.
There was discussion to change the midnight starting time, however council members eventually voted to maintain the 12 a.m. time.
The city has had a juvenile curfew on the books since 2005.

Under Ordinance 2005-005, it is illegal for juveniles to be “in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the city during curfew hours.” The law states that the “parent or guardian of the minor commits an offense if he knowingly permits or by insufficient control allows the minor to remain in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the city curfew hours.”
Business owners who allow juveniles on the premises during curfew hours are also in violation of the law.
A juvenile or minor is defined as anyone under the age of 17. The city says that public places, as mentioned in the ordinance, include streets, highways, and common areas such as office buildings, shops and any place where the public or a substantial group has access.
A minor is not in violation of the ordinance if they are accompanied by their guardian, on an errand at the direction of their parent or guardian without any other stop or detour, or “engaged in an employment activity or going to or returning home from an employment activity, without detour or stop.”
The city says that the ordinance was created to not only deter crimes committed by juveniles, but to also protect them from being victims of crime themselves. The city adds the ordinance has an added bonus of reducing peer pressure among juveniles to stay out late and to “assist parents in the control of their children.”
In other city discussion, a request was brought to the council to increase the city’s sole police officer’s shift from 32 hours a week to 40 hours a week. Council tabled the motion stating that the needed to examine the budget to see if the funds are available. The city begins a new fiscal year in September.
Also related to public safety, the council was asked to approve $3,500 to purchase a new radio for the police car. Mayor Joe Landry said that he would talk to Chambers County Emergency Management to see if they knew a vendor who could give the city a lower price for the equipment.