Local News

March 17, 2014

Curfew ordinance gets makeover

Go out in public after midnight in Dalton and you could still get cited to court if you’re 17 or younger.

Changes Dalton City Council members approved Monday to the city code, however, allow exceptions to the curfew between 11:59 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The changes to the ordinance allow minors to be out in public if they have a medical or other emergency, are going to or leaving work, are accompanied by an adult guardian or traveling on the interstate or are returning home from a “school activity, entertainment, recreational activity or dance.” There are also exceptions for activities that could be considered an exercise of the first amendment rights of freedom of speech, assembly and religion. The city’s old ordinance, passed in the 1980s, didn’t provide for such exceptions.

Mayor George Sadosuk said he believes there’s a need for a curfew even though Dalton doesn’t seem to have a large-scale problem with teen loitering.

“If you’re under 16 years of age and you’re out after 12 o’clock it can be dangerous to you as a kid — or you’re up to no good, one of the two,” Sadosuk said. “I think the police are looking out for our young people. There’s good exceptions in there.”

City Attorney Jim Bisson remarked during a work session Monday before the council meeting that enforcement could be difficult and would require officers to use discretion and judgment.

Officials said they became aware of the need to update the local law to match state law after an incident last year involving a teen who was reportedly a good student with a clean record. The teen was reportedly picking up a sibling to go home and was cited late last year under the local ordinance. She was fined several hundred dollars. Several council members said in interviews with The Daily Citizen at the time that they didn’t know about the ordinance or that there is a similar state law.

Bisson said many cities have similar ordinances, and Dalton’s new law is modeled on an ordinance that “survived litigation.”

Council members passed the ordinance without publicly discussing it on Monday, but Councilwoman Denise Wood said after the meeting it’s less stringent than some cities’ ordinances which burden businesses to make sure no minors are out after curfew.

Dalton Police Department records show officers issued 288 citations to minors for violating the local ordinance between July 2009 and December 2013 and another 11 for violating the state law. Most of the violations were after 1 a.m., records show. Most were along with another violation, according to officials.

“The state has a law, and you need to have some sort of law,” Wood said. “You don’t want young people just hanging out in the middle of the night in the wee hours of the morning. It’s reasonable, I think.”

Councilman Tate O’Gwin agreed.

“If we didn’t have it on the books and there’s a 15-year-old out at 3 in the morning and the police see them, they’ve got no reason to go over there and see what they’re up to,” O’Gwin said. “If they’re potentially breaking the law, then they can at least check in on it.”

Councilman Gary Crews said the city intentionally wrote the new ordinance to be “as lenient as it could be.”

Also at the meeting, council members approved an amendment to the city’s 2013 budget that reflects a net revenue increase of about $238,000. Most of that increase is because a portion of the hotel/motel tax revenue went unused.

Text Only
Local News
  • Kiwanis Club3.jpg Kiwanians get a lesson in money and banking

    It makes it easier for us to buy and sell goods and services. It is the measure by which we judge the relative value of those goods and services, and it allows us to “store value,” by placing it away and using it when we need it.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff: Inmates don’t ask to vote

    In his 21 years of service, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said inmates have never asked for the opportunity to vote.

    July 28, 2014

  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014

  • Former chamber location 2 mlh.jpg Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

    On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park. But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War anniversary: The Battle of Crow Valley, May 9-12, 1864

    The Atlanta Campaign began during the first two weeks of May 1864 in and around Dalton. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s strategy was to target two of his armies, about 80,000 men, against Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton. Then, while Johnston’s attention was diverted by these forces, he would secretly send his third army, about 25,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, in a flanking movement to the southwest through Snake Creek Gap. Sherman’s goal was to break Johnston’s railroad supply line some 15 miles south at Resaca and trap Johnston’s Confederates in Dalton.

    July 26, 2014

  • New church being  built mlh.jpg Church construction continues

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Avans.jpg Three arrested in arson plot to claim insurance money

    Three people have been arrested for their role in a fire at a Chatsworth home as part of an insurance scam to collect money, officials said.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos