Council to take steps to regulate Rice Festival drinking

By: Howell Dennis - Editor
CROWLEY - One of the toughest jobs of Crowley’s annual International Rice Festival comes at midnight when the Crowley Police Department clears the streets..

“It’s tough because first of all the bars stay open until 2 a.m. and I don’t want to be unfair and take a drink out of a person’s hands that they bought at 11:55 p.m.,” said Crowley Chief of Police K.P Gibson. “And that’s the time of night when we see the most trouble.”

During Tuesday’s Crowley City Council meeting, they decided to take the first steps to do something about it. They decided that maybe a good way to start would be to strictly enforce the number of underage people drinking.”

During the Revenue and Finance committee’s report, it was suggested that it will be unlawful for anyone under the age of 21 to possess an open alcohol container on the festival grounds. People 21 and over will still be able to drink on the grounds, however, they must purchase an arm band approved by the city which would show that they would be able to legally possess alcoholic beverages.

“Of course it may not be real popular at first but underage drinking is illegal anyway and we don’t want the city to face any liability in case of a tragedy,” said Crowley Mayor Greg Jones.

Sitting in the courtroom were Gene and Brady Williams, both of whom have been heavily involved in the Rice Festival for many years. Though they didn’t speak up each nodded their heads as though they approved the amendment to the city’s ordinance.

Another ordinance amendment that the council has been considering for several months concerns temporary vendors who come into Crowley for a duration of time (one example used at last month’s meeting were the people who set up shop in the yellow tent next to the school board office a couple of times a year) make their money and simply just leave.

Local vendors have been outspoken about the practice and said that it was taking money away from local businessmen and from the city in general.

Alderwoman Kitty Valdetero seemed to be growing impatient with the amount of time it was taking to make things tougher on such vendors. Everyone on the council agrees that this is a problem and they decided last month to shorten the amount of time these vendors were allowed to work within the city and to substantially raise the money that they pay for a license.

However, City Attorney Tom Regan, who had planned to provide a draft of the requested amendments on Tuesday, was unable to provide a final draft due to his secretary being very ill.

He did however, provide a letter which basically stated what the amendments would be. For example, no door to door peddler would be able to go to a citizen’s home between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ‘or sunset, whichever came first.’

“Kitty is obviously ready to put this behind us as are most of the people here,” said Regan. “But since all my ordinances are in writing I suggest that after the close of this meeting that the ordinance simply be taken under advisement in order to complete my revisions which are much more extensive than what I had anticipated.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Steven Premeaux suggested that the council remain patient and that this issue would be resolved quickly.

“We could call a special meeting if it were necessary or just wait until next month,” said Premeaux.

There will be more on Tuesday’s meeting in the Post-Signal’s Thursday edition and the next council meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 12, at 6 p.m.

Mayor Jones closed the meeting with a reminder of the May 19 special election which has been of great concern to all the members of the council. Surprisingly, the election wasn’t discussed as much as one would think.

“I just want to remind people to look over the amendment and see how important it is to our city,” he said. “And no matter how you feel get out and vote.”

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