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City Braces for Yet Another Fest Season

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Mill Fest 2013 // Photo by Caitlin Turner

As High Fest approaches, Athens city personnel work to make fest season run as smoothly as possible.

The city is taking precautions, anticipating any possible incidents.

“We plan in terms of how we are going to staff [the fests], feeding the staff, flyers, light plants, removing parking from streets,” Deputy Service Safety Director Ron Lucas said.

In order to protect partygoers, the city is utilizing all of its officers. Last year, the Athens City Police Department worked over 150 hours during Palmer, Oak and Mill Fest. The cost to support officers during the fests—and Halloween—was approximately $16,800. This support covers meals, wages, and vehicle use.

Last year during Palmer Fest, 11 Palmer St. caught on fire during a house party. The street fest was quickly declared a riot scene by Mayor Paul Wiehl and partygoers were told to leave the street by both the Ohio University and Athens Police Departments. Since the incident, both local police and university personnel have worked to educate students on the importance of boundaries when at a party.

“We have enough staff to protect the people. Anything that would result in another incident, such as a street fire, we have to make sure that we get people cleared out,” Lucas said.

The city is also taking action this year by having door-to-door meetings with students that plan to participate in the fest.

“We mostly discuss the dos and do nots of throwing parties during the fests,” Lucas said.

Most of the do nots include, being in the street with alcohol, blocking the sidewalks and littering.

The door-to-door meetings are to warn the students about anything they might possibly be liable for during the fest. Violations including throwing bottles, public urination, and loudness would be cause enough for enforcements to shut down the parties.

“I think it was evident during Mill Fest that the early public outreach with expectations worked,” Lucas said.

City officials and Athens police are continuing to organize patrols for the upcoming fests, making them safe and controlled for the public. They hope to have learned from the past and continue to work towards cooperation between students and law enforcement.

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