Fort Lupton youth in government learn to pass policy

Belen Ward
Posted 5/19/23

A group of middle school teens got to see how local government operates firsthand, helping to conduct a Fort Lupton City Council meeting.

"It was a great opportunity for them to see how the town …

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Fort Lupton youth in government learn to pass policy


A group of middle school teens got to see how local government operates firsthand, helping to conduct a Fort Lupton City Council meeting.

"It was a great opportunity for them to see how the town runs and who makes the plans. It was an eye-opener for all of us. It's an amazing experience for these kids and learning something about it," said Barbara Miles, an English Language Development teacher at Fort Lupton Middle School.

"The students have been participating in the Youth in Government for about eight years and it's my 10th year as advisor for the National Junior Society," Miles said.

The Fort Lupton Middle School National Junior Honor Society students participated in the Youth in Government program, taking over a Fort Lupton City Council meeting,  learning how to conduct council business and pass policy. Miles said the twelve students learned how the government makes policy and also toured the city's planning office.

The school has offered the Youth in Government program for eight years, and Miles said she's been an advisor to the National Junior Honor Society for ten years.

Miles said some of the kids took it as a chance to talk about how they would like to see the town expand and what they knew about it. They also got the opportunity to present policy that is important for youths.

Tobacco ordinances changed

The actual council members and seven junior council members voted to amend an ordinance in the Fort Lupton municipal code prohibiting minors from possessing cigarettes or Tobacco products.

Currently, the City of  Fort Lupton policy requires a young person under 18 charged with possessing a tobacco product to answer a summons and appear in county court. With the policy change individuals under 18 will appear in Fort Lupton local court to answer those summonses.

Jeanelle Andersen, Municipal Court Administrator, with the Fort Lupton Municipal Court said that is how it works in other municipalities.

“The county court is much higher than Fort Lupton. We want to detour our students locally rather than send them to a higher court, Anderson said.

Andy Ausmus Fort Lupton prosecuting attorney, said other cities can issue summons requiring 24 hours of community services and educational classes and require destroying tobacco products and vape pens.

 Anderson said historically the City of Fort Lupton has not had a minor in possession of tobacco ordinance.  If someone under the age of 18 is cited for possession of tobacco, the only law regulation available for officers is to write a ticket that falls under the State. 

“Violations within Fort Lupton that are for state charges are heard in Weld County Combined Court," Anderson said. "There is no means for the case to be heard in Fort Lupton Municipal Court.  With the passing of the Ordinance, we will be able to hear these types of cases.” 

Anderson said all officers have discretion when addressing an incident.  The Student Resource Officers are great individuals and work well with our students and schools prior to issuing citations. 

“Typically, by the time a student is written into court, the resource officers and schools have taken prior steps to resolve the matter.  As to how many warnings a student receives prior to court, I believe depends upon the student, the student’s behavior, the student’s attendance and the student’s grades,” Anderson said.

Councilman Claude Hanes asked if councilors amended the Fort Lupton municipal code if  officers would ignore a ticket.

 "We have good Security Resources Officers, if a youth is caught for the first time with a vape pen they would get a warning," Ausmus said. "That's how it has been working. They are having more issues with vape products than with marijuana."

Middle school student Alexander Gomez who played the role as city attorney presented facts of data about teens' use of tobacco by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gomez said studies conducted between 2019 and 2022 showed that electric cigarettes have been the youth's most commonly used tobacco product since 2014.  One out of 30 middle school students reported using e-cigarettes within the previous 30 days in 2022.  One out of seven high school students reported using an e-cigarette within the previous 30 days of 2022.

“Other tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah, nicotine pouches, heated tobacco products, and pipe tobacco," Gomez said. "Middle school boys and girls and high school girls and boys have tried or used all of these products in the past 30 days.”

Auction set

In other Council business, the junior council and council members voted to approve authorization of disposal of usable vehicles and equipment through auction.

City Administrator Chris Cross said the city could claim the funds from the disposal of unused vehicles, equipment and tools, and other miscellaneous items through auction. 

Councilmember Carlos Barron asked if the city has equipment used as a backup.

"We still use six vehicles from the 90s," Cross said.

In other business, Taqueria Los Cazos submitted to the council an application for a license to open a restaurant at 123 First Street in Fort Lupton. All of the council members and junior council approved the application.

Patrick Maloney, of Alcohol Petition Services, said his company was hired to survey the neighborhood around the restaurant April 27 through May 2. 

They company surveyed from 230 businesses and 58 residents. Of the residents, 55 said they favored allowing the license and three opposed it. One of the three said there was already too much in Fort Lupton while a second said they were upset that the restaurant was not family-oriented. The third said there should be no liquor allowed in restaurants.

Ausmus asked restaurant owner  Ruben Delgado Guzman if he and his staff had taken TIPS Alcohol Certification training. Guzman said he and servers took three-hour classes on how to conduct and serve liquor and when not to serve someone with liquor who is visibly intoxicated.

"We were also trained on information serving a person that is underage and what are excepted IDs and will require employees to sign an acknowledgment of the serving liquor policy to enforce a zero-tolerance policy and call the manager when someone is extremely intoxicated," Guzman said.

Mayor Zo Stieber-Hubbard asks Guzman if employees who have yet to take training within 30 days would be allowed to serve alcohol, and Guzman said they would not.

Lastly, the council and junior council voted to approve a contract with Filtec Corporation to purchase new filtration equipment for the city's water treatment plant.

According to the contract, the city will pay $2.4 million from the Water Treatment Utility fund for new MEMOR filtration skids. Filtration skids help separate out particulate contaminants in the water.

Roy Vestal, Public Works director, said the current filtration skids are 25 years old and have been eroding over time.

"It will keep the plant updated with new skids and replacement parts," Vestal said. 

 Mayor Zo Stieber- Hubbard asked if there was a warranty, and Vestal said the new skids come with a two-year warranty.

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