City Council passes ordinances on excessive intoxication and conversion therapy, sets money aside for Soo Line Train

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Eau Claire (WQOW) – The Eau Claire City Council voted unanimously to adopt the Excessive Public Intoxication Ordinance, and the Conversion Therapy Prohibited Ordinance into Eau Claire City law Tuesday.

The Excessive Public Intoxication Ordinance makes it illegal to drink on someone’s property without permission, be visibly intoxicated on city streets or sidewalks, or have indoor furniture on lawns for longer than 24 hours.

The ordinance came at the recommendation of a special task force, formed after the first ordinance banned hired drivers from dropping off more than 10 people on a single block between 9 p.m. and 3 in the morning. Members told News 18 they are pleased with the outcome, and said it’s just the beginning of many needed changes in Eau Claire’s binge drinking culture. “We’re the second-highest drinking community in the country and we have a lot of problems,” said Acting City Council President Andrew Werthmann. “We have deaths around it, we have health issues, we have property destruction.”

This ordinance will become law in early November. Breaking the ordinance results in a fine that could be dismissed after attending a diversion program.

The council also banned conversion therapy in the city to anyone under age 18.

Conversion therapy is the practice to change someone’s sexual orientation. This ordinance prohibits the professional and clinical practice.

Eau Claire School Board President and LGBTQ advocate Joe Luginbill said other free-form unofficial practices are harder to regulate. “When we talk about other programs that are out there that are perhaps, a little more difficult to crack down on, the bottom line is that I think we’re going to keep moving forward as a community. Towards acceptance, towards awareness, and towards inclusivity,” Luginbill told News 18.

Luginbill said he is still happy the city is trending in the direction of acceptance. This ordinance has a punishment of up to a $1,000 fine per case. It also becomes law in early November.

The city council voted to amend the Capital Improvement Plan to add $600,000 in funds to improve railroad safety.

As we reported, the topic was the focus of a discussion of Northside residents led by City Council Member Emily Berge.

The move also comes after a fatal accident at a crossing in September. The money will be added to the 2021 budget.

Lastly, the council approved an amendment to make $100,000 available next year to move the recently re-purchased Soo Line Locomotive from Superior to Eau Claire.

The city council is still determining where the train will be permanently housed, and if they want to get it back and running again.

Justin Esterly

Justin Esterly

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