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Sulphur Springs City Council To Consider Ordinance Setting Curfew For Minors

Sulphur Springs City Council will be asked Tuesday nigh to consider approving an ordinance which would set a city-wide curfew for unsupervised minors in public areas.

Sulphur Springs City Council will be asked to consider Tuesday night an ordinance amendment which would set curfew hours for minors.

On the 7 p.m. regular meeting agenda is Ordinance No. 2762, which would amend Chapter 15 of the city Code of Ordiances to include Article VII, which would establish curfew hours for minors.

The issue of curfew hours was raised during the regular Dec. 3 Sulphur Springs City Council meeting, after two local businesswomen asked for help with unsupervised middle school-aged children downtown.

The women said 12-year-old and 13-year-old youth are often heard at downtown eateries using profane language and discussing fighting, and have knocked over trash cans. As many as 20 youth have been seen in this group at a time. Some remain downtown after 10 p.m., and have even been seen in alleys between businesses, the restaurant personnel told the City Council. They expressed concern for the children left alone and asked for help. One woman even suggested perhaps a curfew for middle-school aged children and younger.

Sulphur Springs City Attorney Jim McLeroy at the Dec. 3 meeting said he plans to draft a proposal to present to the council at the January meeting to address the matter. On Dec. 7, McLeroy said he was already at work drafting a curfew for minors ordinance proposal. At that time, the city attorney said he anticipated proposing a curfew that would apply only to minors under 17 years of age who are unsupervised after certain hours each night and before certain hours in the morning in Sulphur Springs.

McLeroy said he anticipates the curfew would be in place from either 9 or 10 p.m. until about 6 a.m. weekdays and on weekends starting around 10 or 11 p.m.

The proposed ordinance would not apply to minors 16 and younger who: are with parents or legal guardians, are on task where they are supposed to be while running errands for parents, working or traveling to and from work, emergency situations, outside their residences, or involved with school or religious functions. Minors exercising their First Amendment rights by participating in an organized peaceful protest would also be protected, the city attorney noted in December.

The ordinance, as proposed by McLeroy, would apply to all public areas of the city, including parks, downtown and public parking lot — not residences. However, public areas identified as most troublesome will likely be enforced more heavily than other areas.

The ordinance will be presented for first reading, discussion and consideration at the regular City Council meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Jan. 7, at Sulphur Springs City Hall, 201 Davis St. Whether or not the ordinance is approved, as well as times for the curfew and any other lawful modifications, will be up to the City Council.

Author: Faith Huffman

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