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Keep targeting underage drinking

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opinion Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
(218) 847-9409 customer support
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

We’re glad to see the county has gotten serious about cleaning up the underage drinking on the Ottertail River.

The Becker County Sheriff’s Office took river enforcement to a higher level last summer, and it needed to happen to keep young people safe while tubing.

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Fights have been all-too-common on the river, and medical emergencies have often involved alcohol-related issues.

At times, especially during the July 4 holiday and during WE Fest, the river became a moving party, and a safe place for minors to drink.

There’s a reason the action moved from the Detroit Lakes City Beach to the Ottertail River several years ago – there was a lot less law enforcement scrutiny.

At least until it was time to drive home.

Then, troopers, deputies and city police officers were kept busy pulling over young people who had overindulged on the river and were too drunk to drive.

The situation hasn’t been helped by tubing operators opening “party spots” along the river where young people can stay for hours, often over-imbibing before finally heading back down the river.

Cheers to Sheriff Kelly Shannon for putting the resources into patrolling the river last summer.

We’d like to see the county continue the effort until underage drinking on the Ottertail River is a thing of the past.

*** Jeers to litterbugs who throw fast food wrappers, pop bottles and other litter out the car window and into the roadside ditches.

Others simply aren’t careful and allow litter to blow out of their truck beds or trailers on the way to the landfill or elsewhere.

Thanks goodness for the volunteers who clean those ditches as part of Minnesota’s Adopt a Highway Program.

Community groups, churches, individuals or businesses adopt a highway by picking up litter on both sides of a road for at least two years.

The state Department of Transportation helps the groups select a highway to adopt. Roads with heavy traffic or that are otherwise inaccessible or unsafe for pedestrians are not eligible.

Some volunteers just want to help clean up the environment, as a one-time thing.

They can participate in Pick-a-Highway, a one-time litter picking activity on an assigned segment of state highway.

MnDOT provides bags, vests, training, and bag retrieval. Volunteers contribute about four hours of labor.

All those litter-cleaning volunteers save MnDOT – in other words, state taxpayers – $5 million every year, so give them a thumbs up next time you see them cleaning the ditches.

*** Cheers to Parkfest, the free picnic that will be put on by the City of Detroit Lakes from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Pavilion and City Beach.

There will be inflatable games, emergency vehicles on display and other entertainment for the kids.

At 5:15 p.m., there will be a free picnic consisting of simple, picnic-style food including hot dogs and chips, with musical entertainment to follow.

Inside the Pavilion, various organizations, businesses and non-profits will man information booths.

It’s a great chance for residents to get out, have fun, and enjoy a free picnic in the park.

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