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Dutler eager to work with locals on binge drinking issue

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Andrew Dutler
Plymouth County has been listed among the highest-risk counties in Iowa for underage and binge drinking.

Andrew Dutler believes the answers to how to turn those numbers around can be found in the local communities.

Coordinating a new local grant, Dutler is seeking county residents who want to work together to address the underage and binge drinking issues.

Plymouth County was identified among the top 23 Iowa counties in terms of underage and binge drinking. That's why it was selected to receive about $250,000 in a three-year grant to help decrease those numbers.

Dutler was hired to by grant administrator Jackson Recovery to be Plymouth County's grant coordinator in July, and working with locals is at the top of his list.

"I'm going to be setting up a coalition that's going to be meeting here in Le Mars," Dutler said. "We're going to sit down and try to measure what some of the risk factors are in the county, and hopefully, at the end of the grant in three years, we'll be able to put some things in place to reverse or lower the numbers that we're seeing."

The coalition is essentially a brainstorming group, Dutler said.

They might look at situations like teenagers expressing there's "nothing to do" in a community or events in a community that have beer tents that are central to the event.

"Things like that advertise easy accessibility," Dutler said.

He said the answers the coalition will look for won't necessarily involve removing the beer tents or banning it from events.

"We're not trying to eliminate alcohol. Alcohol has been around forever," Dutler said. "We're trying to eliminate underage drinking and binge drinking."

Alcohol, he said has been viewed as a rite of passage, a way to have fun.

But studies have shown that the younger someone starts drinking, the more likely he or she is to develop alcoholism, he said.

"And it's OK for an adult to enjoy beverages, but studies show that after four or five drinks, their judgment can be lacking and they might do things they otherwise wouldn't."

For the coalition, Dutler is seeking people who are invested in the communities of Plymouth County. That can be everyone from people involved in schools and youth groups to law enforcement officers or health professionals to parents and students, he said.

They'll meet on a regular basis, maybe at noon once per quarter or once a month, although specific dates and times haven't been set yet.

"It is a way for a collective group of people that want to see a little bit of change in the community to try to start a little bit of a movement," Dutler said. "It's primarily going to be, 'OK, what did we identify in this meeting and how feasible is it that we get out and spread the word?'"

The coalition's ideas will also give Dutler direction in his daily work.

"I'm not here to push anything on people. I'm here to assist them in making Plymouth County better," he said.

Those interested in participating in the coalition can contact Dutler by email at adutler@jacksonrecovery.com or by phone at 712-234-2377.

Dutler is a 2007 University of Nebraska, Omaha, graduate with a degree in psychology. He grew up in rural Sioux City in Plymouth County.

After college, Dutler worked with low-income and first-generation students in the Sioux City area, promoting post-secondary education. He's also pursuing his master's degree in mental health counseling.

"I've always been in this line of work. I wanted to help people," Dutler said, adding that he's excited to start working with Plymouth County residents on the binge and underage drinking issues.

"I'm happy to be here to help," he said.

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If you ever wonder why our nation is in such finacial trouble all you need to do is read this article. Grants are tax payers money (Taxes) and if we keep issuing grants for such rediculous things our government will never be able to balance the budget. Our National debt just went up another quarter of a million dollars. I can already tell you teenagers are programmed to drink in our society and in every society around the world. Drinking by teenagers will never stop, it's what we all do and did as teenagers. It's part of growing up. Didn't Sioux county just do the same thing a year or so ago. Let's make a copy of their report and call it done. If every county in the country wasted a quarter if a million dollars a year, I wonder how many billions of dollars that would be. Get real America!

-- Posted by noworries on Tue, Aug 9, 2011, at 6:30 PM

Well said, why waste the money?

-- Posted by Main on Tue, Aug 9, 2011, at 9:16 PM


-- Posted by Main on Tue, Aug 9, 2011, at 9:17 PM

Couldn't agree more!!

-- Posted by Main on Tue, Aug 9, 2011, at 9:30 PM

Sorry about all the posts.....slow computer :-)

-- Posted by Main on Tue, Aug 9, 2011, at 9:30 PM

Just so you know....it was Jackson Recovery which applied for and recieved the grant. The County had nothing to do with it.

-- Posted by machiavelli on Wed, Aug 10, 2011, at 7:19 AM

So, just because something has 'always' been done, that makes it okay? No wonder the kids drink, if the adults in this town don't care about them, why should they care about themselves? Don't you want better for them? Underage drinking is illegal, so we SHOULD be putting effort into putting a stop to it.

-- Posted by amielyn on Wed, Aug 10, 2011, at 2:22 PM

This is a 'way of life' for many people of the community and as long as it is "acceptable" or overlooked, it will continue. Socially acceptable behavior sets examples for the youth. Adults project to youth with their actions. Until that is rectified, I expect underage drinking to continue because there is always a way to get the alcohol.

-- Posted by Michael Lamb on Wed, Aug 10, 2011, at 7:52 PM

So Michael, can we send the $250,000 back since we now know why?

-- Posted by noworries on Thu, Aug 11, 2011, at 3:43 PM

breakdown of the family. there your study is done.

if these kids had a mother AND father that cared, and had to answer to when they got home late. or if they got grounded or took the cell phone away for a couple of weeks. (BUT THE KID HAS RIGHTS) BULL we have removed the rights of parents. we have removed the abilty of the schools to discipline.(KIDS HAVE RIGHTS)and this is what we get. like it or not kids will always drink. goverment cannot fix it because it's not the goverments job.but if we just throw money at it everyone will know we care.

-- Posted by mudfoot on Fri, Aug 12, 2011, at 8:48 AM

Here goes my 2 cents worth of tax money to the mix of comments.

The study I personally did says it's acceptable so let's us as PARENTS turn our heads and cough. For at least the dad's it will indicate if we have hernia issues.

Now for my soap box speal. Maybe Dutler needs to start out by attending Prom, Prom Dance, and after Prom. Mudfoot hit's on a very touchy subject about parents, but he is exactly correct. There are those in town that have the mind set that as long as they drink at my house, I can keep them safe and off the roads since they are going to drink anyway. I wonder how many prom gatherings this last year at parents houses included drinking? I wonder how many kids consumed drinks prior to prom? The percentage several years ago was unreal. You can't curb drinking until the adults curb it. Starting with Prom.

-- Posted by economics101 on Fri, Aug 12, 2011, at 4:23 PM

You all are missing the point. Growing up as a teen in Plymouth County, I can absolutely agree that we are in the category to warrent this money. The "there's nothing to do" is absolutely true. County officials want more revenue to come to the area? Invest in things that will keep people here. Who wants to go to a tiny dive-y movie theater when they can travel to Orange City, Sioux Center, or Sioux City and go to a state-of-the-art one? Besides Ice Cream Days (which I have no problem with except it is geared toward children the age of 8 and under) and the Plymouth County Fair (which has no impressive concerts or other events to speak of) the County has next to no events, especially in Le Mars. Get real people. The census just came out that fewer young people live here. Why? BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING TO DO BUT DRINK. And not everybody wants to drink, all the time. But thats what kids that haven't graduated high school yet are doing. You won't be able to keep them home on the weekends. But we should at least make an effort to providing them with something to do as a sober alternative to binge drinking in the country. Did anybody know that that's where they are doing it? And here's why: the Le Mars Police Department is incredibly strict. Whatever happened to Cruising the Loop? Shut down. Parties at the Pit? Shut down. Hanging out at the park at night? Shut down. To be fair, I suppose that is how the City is making its money off of the younger kids. Did you know that I was one of *12* kids in my graduating class (167 from LCHS) without an alcohol or drug violation? If you people were previously unaware that underage drinking was a problem in the county, than you people are as naiive as the day you were born. Wake up, and instead of punishing the youth, invest in them. Dutler is trying to help with this money. Now, the money should NOT be used to send MIP recipients to rehab. This money should be used to increase our community's wellfare. We can really do some good with this.

-- Posted by hogtied on Tue, Aug 16, 2011, at 9:45 AM

Here's a theory..

The police around here either have very little police work to do, so they have to resort to seat belt tickets and picking on the kids in town (I've heard from many people that when they were young they'd do some pretty dumb things, but it wasn't such a big deal, which were the same exact things kids are still doing today)... or the police are simply too incompetent to do any actual police work.

Either way, maybe the underage drinking statistics in this area are incorrect and inflated because catching kids drinking is nearly the only thing the police are able to do in this town.

Just something I've heard a lot and seems plausible.

-- Posted by former_resident on Tue, Aug 16, 2011, at 1:25 PM

"Cruising the Loop" died out when Central Avenue downtown went from four lanes to three. The police had nothing to do with it.

All city parks in LeMars have a curfew as decided by the city council many years ago. The police don't make the rules.

"There is nothing to do" is no excuse for breaking the law. Next time you get busted please use that excuse on the judge and see how far you get. Find some dignity and take responsibility for your actions.

There is a direct link between criminal activity and alcohol and drug use and abuse. People (especially juveniles) who are under the influence are less inhibited and more likely to do stupid things and act on impulse.

The biggest obstacle to curbing underage drinking is parental ignorance and indifference. Many parents spend there time sitting in a bar then passed out at home and they have no idea where there kids are at or who thet are with.

When little Johnny tells you he is spending the night at a friends house what that sometimes means is Johnny and his friend are out burglarizing cars at three in the morning.

Parents need to grow a backbone. You have a responsibility to say no to your kid once in a while. You have a duty to make sure your little angel isn't damaging the quality of life the rest of of us would like to enjoy in this town.

I encourage the police to catch every underage drinker they can find. I wish the best of luck to Mr. Dutler. In todays "kids will be kids and I can do what I want" society he's going to need it.

-- Posted by Fighting the Tide on Wed, Aug 17, 2011, at 12:13 AM

The society mentality of 'kids will be kids' is long gone. That's pretty much what I was getting at.

And I also encourage the police to do their jobs, just not to focus on the easy parts.

For instance, when the bars close at 2 am in LeMars, 3 cop cars show up at one specific location with no specific criminal activity occuring yet. What about the rest of the entire town? Yes, drinking can lead to illigal activity. But 3 officers shooting fish in barrel while the rest of the town sits in near darkness hardly seems right.

Many, many people have similar stories about the silliness of the police around here. So when they came up with this report of underage drinking being a problem more so here than other places, it helped solidify the theory that the reported police activity is severely unrealistic of actual criminal activity in this area.

-- Posted by former_resident on Wed, Aug 17, 2011, at 4:05 PM

former resident, I know the location you're talking about where the police show up at closing time on weekends.

Are the police "shooting fish in a barrel" or are they keeping a lid on the repeated assaults, harassments, petty arguments, and vandalism which seem to happen with the large drunk crowds that gather.

Yes it's a shame some of those people need a baby sitter when officers could be used elsewhere but it's called being pro-active. The mere presence of marked police cars seems to keep things under control instead of the police showing up after the fact. Seems smart to me.

I have every confidence that area law enforcement can handle the hard stuff and still have time for the easy parts.

I bet crime victims wouldn't find your "stories about the silliness" very silly at all.

As a "former resident" you seem ill informed and I don't think you have a firm grasp of our local issues.

-- Posted by Fighting the Tide on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 5:34 AM

Actually former resident...the grant was awareded to Le Mars not because of police statistics but in most part due to a self reporting survey given to 8th, 10th and 12th graders throughout the state of Iowa. There are many questions on this survey but a majority of them deal with SELF REPORTING alcohol and drug use. So if the people of Plymouth County don't believe that underage drinking is a problem then they need to start talking to the young people in their community.

-- Posted by allen06 on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 8:18 AM

Folks,I am so TIRED of hearing how the police are out to get you. They have nothing better to do but sit oustide a bar and "shoot fish in a barrel? Really, as Fighting the Tide pointed out the Police not only keep things quiet as people leave the bar but maybe they keep enough drunk drivers off the road so somebody doesn't get killed by them. Former-Resident, grow up. The police don't force anybody to be in the bar until 2 a.m. drinking and then driving. If you drink and drive and get caught it is your fault. Fortunately it does not turn into your problem.

As for nothing to do in this town, that's an age old arguement that is simply tired. Plenty of things to do in Le Mars withouth drinking. Someobdy listed them above so I won't repeat but come on.

People accept responsbiliity for your actions. If it is illegal don't do it and if you do and get caught then own your screw up. Don't blame it on someone else.

As for parenting in Le Mars and nearly everywhere else. It's the same until "adults" and I use quotes because if believe that feeding alcohol to minors in your home is a controlled situation you are not mature enough to be truly called an adult. But until we/"adults" come to the realization that alcohol when abused can/will cause bad outcomes we will face this problem.

Good Luck to Mr. Dutler. As for the adults in our community, own the consequences of your actions and then maybe you will think before you do.

-- Posted by tiredofrhetoric on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 9:19 AM

Yea you guys are probably right. Kids should be sought after like the criminals they are. Kids should never do anything illegal, they should be perfect, and if they aren't we should throw the book at them.

And young people enjoying the bar atmosphere should be hounded when they leave. And real criminals should be left alone. Let the police be lazy.

And we shouldn't provide more entertainment for people, especially young people, so that they really have nothing better to do. Kids today don't need any help from their community.

And while were at it, we shouldn't help the school district that is in need of money to help educate the kids.

Keeping this mindset, not seeing the other side, the young people's side, is not helping the community. I bet the longer this goes on, the more young people will leave (which is already happening according to census results). But maybe that's the goal.

But I do agree that adults should never give alcohol to any underage person. Adults need to be adults and be there to guide the kids.

Perhaps this report will open the eyes of the community. Something needs to change around here. And Mr. Dulter is here to help.

-- Posted by former_resident on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 11:12 AM

Former, the arguement has always been here and I grew up in Le Mars and said the same thing. I didn't drink in high school though, other than two bears once. The arguement that there isn't anything to do in Le Mars is weak. It's an easy crutch to rationalize why minors should drink.

Stop blaming the police for illegal acts preformed by individuals. Altohouh, maybe I should be appy to see that you don't think operating while intoxicated is a crime. I'm sure those who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers share your sentiment. Are you kidding me?

You know, if you go the bar don't get into fights when you leave the bar, don't urinate in an alley, don't drink and drive, etc. Have fun, enjoy yourself but be responsible. If you aren't drunk or breaking a law, my guess is, you aren't going to be arrested. I am happy the police are working to prevent illegal behavior. Ever hear of protect and serve? Rather than cry that they are hounding you, don't get drunk and be stupid. How simple is that?

Stop trying to rationalize drunken behavior as being something other than a real crime. Or maybe you could enlighten us as to what a REAl crime is.

Don't try to gropu distinctly seperate issues into the arguement about illegal under age drinking. By the way, I support the ISL and am one of the most vocal on this site.

-- Posted by tiredofrhetoric on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 3:52 PM

I guess I need to state that I've never been in any criminal trouble in this town.

And I don't condone drinking and driving. But when police can't seem to find anyone drinking and driving, so they find the need to give out public intoxication tickets to people walking home, then I see a problem.

These stories go on and on and on. Something, I'm not sure what, needs to change. And I'm not being sarcastic; I really don't know. I do think the whole mindset of this town needs to change, though.

-- Posted by former_resident on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 8:36 PM

Hogtied said: Who wants to go to a tiny dive-y movie theater when they can travel to Orange City, Sioux Center, or Sioux City and go to a state-of-the-art one?

Have you not read about our new movie theater in the Sentinel? It is just as state-of-the-art as any other. Check out a Hi-Def 3D movie there sometime and find out for yourself.

-- Posted by Mark S on Fri, Aug 19, 2011, at 12:35 PM

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