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Drinking problems plague Galt’s youth

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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:56 am, Wed Jul 20, 2011.

Galt City Council members had a sobering discussion at their meeting Tuesday after a presentation showed the city is battling a high percentage of underage drinkers.

Originally, a presentation by Patricia St. James was meant to solely encourage the council to agree to allow the city’s seal on a pamphlet St. James was part of creating to help raise awareness of underage drinking in Sacramento County.

However, when she revealed the percentage of people under the age of 18 who either already had their first drink or who were already battling alcoholism in Galt, Mayor Barbara Payne immediately asked St. James to make a return visit to speak with the city’s Youth Committee to see what else could be done to try to bring the numbers down.

“(The Youth Committee) is great at networking and they can make a difference with something like this,” Payne said. “They can contribute and get the community involved because they understand and can connect with their peers.”

St. James, a resident of Elk Grove who worked in Galt for a number of years, said she would often see students stagger into high school classrooms, already intoxicated from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol early in the morning.

She added that while the overall percentage of underage drinkers in the county was approximately around 25 percent, Galt exceeded that number by roughly 10 percent, meaning about 35 percent of people under the age of 18 had a drinking problem.

“We have some work we need to be doing,” St. James said. “Galt loves their youths and we need to support them. It takes work and discipline to train the body to feel the same way as when someone is drunk and we need to give those who struggle options to work with.”

In the brochure that was handed out to each council member, it states about 26 percent of seventh-graders in the city of Galt had already had their first full drink.

Also in the brochure, St. James pointed out that 47 percent of 11th-graders in Galt had reported having been very drunk or sick after drinking alcohol and 27 percent have driven a car after drinking or been driven by someone who has been drinking.

Council members were also given data that revealed 21 percent of ninth-graders and 30 percent of 11th-graders in the city of Galt reported binge drinking in a 2008-09 Healthy Kids survey.

The survey was conducted to gauge the amount of alcohol being consumed by underage drinkers throughout Sacramento County.

Currently, St. James and other volunteers are working with the school districts in the Galt area as well as the police department to try to take action against the high percentages of young adults who are either consuming alcohol or who have a drinking problem.

According to St. James, the brochure is meant to target parents because “parents are the best line of defense.”

However, brochures and posters on facts about alcohol and how it affects the brain and the body will also be distributed to businesses throughout Galt.

“There is a reason you are supposed to wait until you are 21 to drink,” St. James said. “Your body does not know and will not be able to remember the consequences if you drink when you are 11 or 12.”

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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  • Joe Baxter posted at 8:16 pm on Wed, Jul 20, 2011.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1792

    I am laughing so hard my stomach hurts. MENTOR? Just what I would want, a psychotic nut case for a mentor. BOO !!

  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:27 pm on Wed, Jul 20, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Both Galt and Lodi should be enforcing the laws they have on the booksconcerning alcohol sales to minors from every store or outlet that sells alcohol, but should at least institute programs for both drug and alcohol awareness to those under 21 also. Alcohol never seems to be a big deal here with the products available at nearly every business in town. The real problem in Lodi is the easy availability of black tar heroin and crystal meth, which seems to be the drug of choice for those I work with and mentor. For being such small, compact towns that don't cover much area, the enforcement and programs seem to be on the very shy side. The crime log published by the Lodi News-Sentinel only usually reports the petty violations that would give the impression that LPD responds only to many junk, disturbance, loud music, minor traffic violations and calls that could be handled by the senior patrol, which isn't the case at all if you review the police log for yourself and check the inmate inquiry list. Why not more frequent alcohol stings relating to selling both alcohol and cigarettes to minors and stiff penalties for violators instead of just a small fine and a slap on the hand? I thought there was a limitation on the number of off-site and on-site permits nallowed? Why so terribly many issued in downtown Lodi? These kids are surely getting some of their alcohol supply from some of those retailers as well as having even parents or friends supplying them, aren't they? There is no real solution, but it would certainly be nice to see these city councils at least orchestrate an effort to bring this issue forward as a meeting agenda item and at least create awareness to circumvent this underage drinking problem.

  • Jay Samone posted at 10:25 am on Wed, Jul 20, 2011.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    C'mon Doug. What's alittle coke with your everyday wine, eh? I agree about Lodi's teens - in fact, I'm pretty sure Galt teens get most of their alcohol from us, no? Isn't Galt a "dry town"?

  • Doug Chaney posted at 8:58 am on Wed, Jul 20, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Very informative article, Ms Nelson. Sadly this problem exists in every city or town in the country. Alcohol seems to be the main driving factor involved in nearly event in this area, more likely so in Lodi, where it seems every third business downtown Lodi is an on sale alcohol business, with the preferred owneers evven allowed public sidewalk areas for their imbibers, although I've actually seen a few diners actually using the public sidewalk areas having dinner there. When taking my grandkids to the Lodi cinema, they always want to know how come so many people are outside and merely consuming alcohol? And they ask why they're so loud and yelling at one another. And you don't think the teens that hang around town aren't influenced by this behavior that's allowed for the select few to have ttheir drinking areas within public view of the general public, especially developing children. I'd be very pleased to see the Sentinel produce the same article on underage drinking in livable, lovable Lodi. Kds will never change, and if nowhere else get their alcohol, and oftentimes prescription drugs, from their own parents' stash or liquor cabinet. I'm just guessing that management at the Sentinel chose Galt rather than their own town to both try to increase subscriptions and to avoid offending any of their good ol' boys and girls network with negative sstories about livable, lovable Lodi and their own out of control aalcohol and drug abuse problem. Galtonians, you should be proud readers of the Lodi News-Sentinel!



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