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 Curfew Law Passed in Carthage

September 5, 2007 - The Carthage Town Council is hoping a new ordinance will help local police with efforts to enforce curfews for juveniles.

Passed by a 5-0 vote at the council's August 27 meeting, Ordinance E-2007, which takes effect today, follows state statutes and sets the same limits on when juveniles can be in public places in town without their parents, guardians or custodians. The curfew for children younger than 15 is 11 p.m.-5 a.m. everyday of the week; and for juveniles aged 15, 16 and 17, the curfew is 1 a.m.-5 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, after 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and before 5 a.m. Monday-Friday.

Like the state's curfew laws, the town's ordinance (see legal notice on Page 16) also includes several defenses, or circumstances when juveniles may be out in public during the restricted times without violating curfew. Defenses include:

          *A child is with their parent, guardian or custodian;

          *A child is with an adult specified by their parent, guardian or custodian;

          *A child is participating in, going to or returning from: lawful employment; a school sanctioned activity; a religious event; an emergency involving the protection of a person or property from an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or substantial damage; an activity involving their rights to freedom of speech and assembly under state and federal constitutions; or an activity conducted by a nonprofit or governmental entity that provides recreation, education, training, or other care under the supervision of at least one adult.

          *The child is participating in an activity undertaken at the prior written direction of the child's parent, guardian or custodian; or

          *The child is engaged in interstate or international travel from a location outside Indiana to another location outside Indiana.

One big difference between the town's curfew ordinance and the state's curfew statutes is that the former includes penalty provisions not found in the state's laws. If a child is found to have violated Carthage's curfew ordinance, their parent or legal guardian will be fined $35 for the first offense, and $100 and $200, respectively, for second and third offenses that occur within a one-year period. Curfew violators may also be subject to juvenile delinquency proceedings.

Towns like Carthage, as well as cities and counties, have the authority to set local curfews that begin up to two hours earlier than those set by the state's statutes. At this time, however, Carthage has not opted to impose a more restrictive curfew.

Approval of the curfew ordinance came on the same night the council was advised that more than half of the lights installed near the town's veterans memorial had recently been stolen or destroyed. Sharon Hamilton, a former longtime Carthage resident, told the council that 24 lights purchased by the Blue River Cruisers for the town's memorial park at a cost of about $150, only nine were left.

Responding to a question from Hamilton, council member Tim Wehr said the town does have insurance for the park's monument, flagpole and gazebo. However, he noted that the town's $500 deductible would be more than the cost of replacing the lights.

Wehr suggested that some type of permanent lighting recessed into the concrete would be less prone to damage and theft. Hamilton said the Carthage Lions Club had considered purchasing lighting like that as a project, and Council President Rick Bush asked Hamilton to meet with the town's works manager, Jimmie Alcorn, to see what all would be needed.

Kathy Brown, president of the Blue River Cruisers, asked the council about a wooden playset and park benches and the group had donated for use at McNabb Park. She said two of the benches no longer have backs and asked that they be brought to her home to avoid further damage.

Wehr explained that town had been asked by its insurer to take down the playset due to concerns over liability. He said the equipment was considered to be better suited for residential use.

"This didn't just happen one weekend," Bush said about the damages to the benches and issues with the lighting. "It's just a shame that more people don't take pride in their park. … It's very costly to maintain a park, especially for a town our size." He suggested law enforcement efforts be increased, saying he thought kids in town "have too much freedom."

Town Marshal Mike Onkst told the council he would like for the town to install a surveillance camera that could monitor the memorial park area. Hamilton said the Lions Club may be able to help finance that purchase, which Onkst said could be between $2,500 and $3,500.


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