August 18, 2011 |

Borough leaders talk about youth drinking

Haines Borough Mayor Jan Hill, police chief Gary Lowe and manager Mark Earnest met this week to discuss youth drinking in the community.

A 21-year-old Haines man was killed and an 18-year-old was seriously injured in alcohol-related accidents since July 4.

Hill could not be reached on deadline but Lowe said the Mayor is interested in perhaps holding a town hall meeting on the topic. "There’s a core group of citizens interested in pursuing this somehow," Lowe said.

In a separate interview, Lowe defended a decision to not seek charges against an 18-year-old man who was run over after drinking.

Some residents have said the law’s decision to not prosecute the man sends a message to other youths that they can drink without fear of prosecution.

Lowe said a criminal charge is intended to have a deterrent effect, and he said the young man’s injuries were a deterrent to both the victim and other youths.

"I think that what he’s been through, he’s had enough deterrent effect. (For others), the deterrent effect is already visible in the experience he went through. He just about died. He’s going to be having multiple surgeries and everything else."

Stemming youth drinking is a larger community-wide problem, he said.

"It’s going to take the people of this community to drive this thing. We’re in a cycle and we’ve been in this cycle before. Someone gets hurt or killed and there’s initial outrage, followed by a program that may last a month or six months. I don’t know how you change those deep-seeded patterns. You can stick your finger in the dike, but you’re not going to solve the problem."

Lowe said no one has complained to him about police handling of the case. "I’d be happy to talk to anyone about it."