Bad behavior during a high school graduation party may result in higher fees and new alcohol policies for future events at the Pershing County Community Center. The facility was “trashed” and charges may be filed against adults who allegedly allowed underage drinking at the event.
Partygoers left garbage “strewn in the parking lots, behind the building, in front of the building,” a concrete sign was damaged, gravel was kicked out of a weed barrier, plants were uprooted, windows were sprayed with an unknown substance and cake, beer cans and cigarette butts were discarded on the floor according to a written report prepared for the county commission.
Surveillance video indicated there may have been underage drinking and smoking or vaping. The video indicated that a young male may have urinated in public in a storage area. Floors were sticky, possibly with urine, but the facility’s new carpeting sustained no major damage.
“The kids were drinking beer and hard liquor and were being served this liquor by adults,” stated Pershing County Community Center Director Dixie McKay. “Kids were doing shooters and had poked a hole in the bottom of beer cans and were chugging the beer. One young lady fell in the storage room. The floor was very wet from melting ice, spills and I presume urine.”
There were two additional grad parties but there were no major issues except for the beer bottles she found in trash cans after a “dry” party, according to McKay. If alcohol appears at what is supposed to be an alcohol-free event, the organizers can be charged a $1,000 fine for the violation according to the community center rental contract.
“The responsible parties brought the key back at which time I showed them the beer bottles,” McKay reported. “They told me that someone came in with beer and they were told to get out. I stated that they were still responsible. I asked John Handka to review the surveillance tape as soon as he can to see what the outcome is before I send any bills for violations or damage.”
Event organizers who do permit alcohol must pay an additional $500 deposit and are expected to enforce underage drinking laws, “keep the peace” and reimburse the county for damages.
Rental fees, security and alcohol deposits may be waived by the community center board for government events or fundraisers hosted by non-profit service clubs and youth organizations.
All room users are expected to cleanup after their events. McKay commended a person who went above and beyond after the second “wet” graduation party where alcohol was allowed.
“The Grad party held on May 31 had a much better outcome than the night before,” she said in the report. “It was a wet party and, if the kids had any alcohol, it wasn’t noticed. I came to the community center the morning after and ran into the responsible party. This individual was even picking up the trash on the outside! I will be sending this person a thank you card.”
Community center room reservation policies will be under review and changes could be considered at the July 3 county commission meeting. Meanwhile, property damage and the alleged underage drinking at the facility are under investigation by the district attorney’s office.
A new community center alcohol policy could impact non-profit fundraisers attended by minors.
Along with the new carpeting and new sound speakers, 300 new chairs will be available at the community center. In May, the facility generated $4,181 in fees, deposits and insurance, there were 57 meetings and approximately 1,330 people used the building, McKay said in her report.
Community center board member Dave Skelton is outraged by the bad behavior and would like to somehow “nip it in the bud” to protect the facility and avoid penalizing other groups that use it.
“The community center is wonderful but all it takes is one bad apple to spoil it for everyone and I don’t want to see that happen,” he said. “It affects the entire community. If you want to protect what we have, then act responsibly. We have brand new carpet in and to have this happen right after that, you just want to take somebody and shake them. Just be responsible!”