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Aberdeen Combats Underage Drinking

November 15, 2012, 5:32 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Aberdeen Combats Underage Drinking
ABERDEEN, SD -

The Aberdeen community has been fighting underage drinking in town and those involved are hopeful to see results.

Northern State University student Aleece Jung is one of them. As a representative of a school program, she has been watching teens come in and out of court.

"Seeing the underage violations come through for their second, third violations, I feel like they just don't know. They feel like they should be drinking. It's normal; everyone does it," Jung said.

And that's a perception Jung is working to change. She's part of a coalition made up of numerous agencies from the community. The group focuses on drinking in college.

There's a coalition working to cut drinking in high school too.

"In making sure that we're identifying what the common trends are within our community and what areas need to be addressed," prevention coordinator Jordan Palmer said.

The city itself is directing money to the fight. Between $18,000 and $19,000 a year from video lottery machine fees flows through the police department toward enforcement and education related to underage drinking.  It'll fund anything from liquor stings to overtime hours officers use cracking down on house parties to bringing in speakers.

As a whole, different entities from the local to state level are working together.

"We all have the same goal in making sure we're combating underage drinking and drug use as well," Palmer said.

Groups are surveying students to see if efforts are making a difference. Until a few years worth of information is collected, it's hard to know. But Jung is at least hopeful.

"I feel like people are more aware now, which was the whole point," Jung said.

But the work, she says, isn't over either. The city has cracked down on people selling alcohol to minors in recent years. It now threatens jail time for doing so.

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