DA cracking down on underage drinking

"We follow up on all these leads," said Tibbitts. "We have made arrests because of the information we've got from these lines."

One tip, he said, led to arrests at a party in Ticonderoga where an adult allegedly allowed 14 teens to consume alcohol. At least two of those underage drinkers were reportedly hospitalized due to over consumption.

Doug Terbeek, executive director for the Prevention Team, a non-profit organization devoted to limiting the frequency of substance abuse and other risky behavior in youth, said the BEST Partnership would be looking to work with both parents and retailers to prevent teens from accessing alcohol. Some of the grant funds would be directed to the Prevention Team to fund server training for stores and restaurants.

"When it comes to prevention, what we've learned is that it's more about changing the environment," said Terbeek, "making it less friendly to underage drinking."

The BEST Partnership has been working for over a year to curb underage drinking in Essex County, but the grants represent the first time the initiative has received outside funding specific to its purpose.

"This gives us hope that we can really make a difference in the environment," said Terbeek, "not only for our youth, but also for adults."

Still more of the grant funds will also be used for a media campaign to educate the public about the legal consequences for allowing youth to consume alcohol.

"Arrests are important," said Mac MacDevitt, Prevention Team staff member, "but what's really important is getting the message out, too."

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