Skip to main Content
Rural Alaska

Bethel city council delays voting on updated alcohol laws

  • Author: Associated Press
  • Updated: July 11
  • Published July 11

BETHEL — The city council postponed voting on updated alcohol laws because the measures contained too many amendments.

Council members in the Southwest Alaska hub city delayed the votes Tuesday because the amendments raised more issues than could be handled immediately, KYUK-AM reported Wednesday.

The proposed amendments include modifying liquor store business hours, changing alcohol offense fines and raising a limit on customer sales from two to five bottles per day.

The bottle limit increase was favored 4-3.

The low bottle limit could worsen alcohol-related problems, said Councilor Carole Jung-Jordan.

"You see people up and down the highway," Jung-Jordan said of intoxicated pedestrians. "They've never had it for their whole lives, and when they get it they can't handle it."

Freedom was the issue, said Vice Mayor Thor Williams.

"A lot of people come to this state to live free and not be told how to live their lives," Williams said.

Freedom to drink without limits affects the freedom of others, said Councilor Mitchell Forbes, who argued two bottles per day is enough.

"It's kind of obnoxious for this council to say we need rights for chronic inebriates, but not for people who want to live in a quiet community," Forbes said.

A proposed change to the city's open container law would allow police to enforce the ordinance based on possession of an open receptacle, rather than the existing standard of observing the act of drinking alcohol.

The open container law "is going to make a huge difference on inebriated pedestrians," said council member Fritz Charles.

Mayor Fred Watson anticipated “hundreds, if not thousands of citations a year.”

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.