Area officials push for safe prom season


First Posted: 4/9/2014

LIMA — For the first time in recent memory, no stores that sell alcohol sold to an underage undercover agent working with the Shawnee Township Police Department.

Shawnee Township Police Chief Mike Keith is hoping that is a sign of good things to come with the prom season and graduation nearing.

“I was pleasantly surprised. First time since I’ve been here we haven’t had any sales,” Keith said.

Shawnee Township police officers go to each of the township’s nine stores with alcohol permits to hand deliver a letter warning them it’s illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under 21. It also warns them to check driver’s licenses.

Despite the efforts and warnings, they always catch a clerk selling to the police agent, Keith said.

It puts that store at risk of losing the liquor license that allows them to sell alcohol and the clerk faces jail time, Keith said.

The effort by police is just one to warn teenagers of potentially dangerous behavior while they are about to celebrate some of the biggest milestones of their lives, Keith said.

Alcohol is the big one because it can lead to dangerous drunken driving. It also can lead to some otherwise behaved teens engaging in disruptive or illegal behavior, he said.

Police and educational officials in Putnam County are encouraging teens to plan a safe prom.

“You’re going to remember your prom for the rest of your life. It can be a time of laughter, dancing, fun and celebration. But it can also be a dangerous time,” officials said in a combined written statement.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers and about one-third of all traffic deaths of drivers age 15 to 20 are alcohol related, they said.

Putnam County officials are urging teens to celebrate alcohol- and drug-free. They also ask that teens pledge to each other to keep their friends safe and make healthy decisions.

Putnam County Sheriff Mike Chandler also is warning drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, particularly texting while driving. A violation for a teen can result in a $150 fine and a 60-day driver’s license suspension.

Mercer County officials are planning a mock crash demonstration for Thursday at the fairgrounds in that county. The event is held for all six high schools in Mercer County, said Monte Diegel, the 911 administrator for the Sheriff’s Office.

“This program is about making good choices and getting our students to learn the dangers of mixing alcohol and drugs with driving,” Diegel said.

Celina resident Tim Wurster is the guest speaker for the Mercer County event. He was involved in a crash in 1985 that killed his brother and left him paralyzed.