The Taney County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) facilitated a partnership with the Branson Police Department, and Branson Board of Aldermen to conduct compliance checks and work to strengthen/expand Branson’s alcohol ordinance throughout the County via collaboration with other communities, law enforcement agencies, and governing bodies.
“In 2007, a major development area, the Landing, was opened in Branson and touted for its family-friendly atmosphere. In August of 2007, a licensed kiosk served alcohol to a customer at the Landing who subsequently consumed the beverage outside the licensed area, thereby changing the intended alcohol-free environment of the Landing,” said Alaina Williams, ADAPT Project Coordinator. “This sparked the Branson Board of Aldermen to initiate a community needs assessment to review the city’s alcohol and enforcement codes, which had not been done since 1996. At the same time, the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) conducted an alcohol compliance check operation in Branson, resulting in only a 22 percent compliance rate. Local responsible beverage service training for servers and retailers was non-existent, and compliance checks were not being conducted by local law enforcement.”
Taney County is located in the Ozarks region of southwest Missouri with a mostly rural community of approximately 54,700 residents distributed in its small towns, cities and rural enclaves. The primary city is Branson, which is known for its family-friendly tourism industry comprised of live entertainment, amusement rides, shopping, outdoor recreation, and restaurants. The accommodation, food service, and entertainment industry are a major contributor to the local economy.
“However, this industry is characterized by low-pay/skill and seasonal variations that result in a very transient population and extreme fluctuations in unemployment rates. Historically, local economic development and the growth of the tourism industry lead to growing alcohol outlet density, cultural acceptance of tobacco use, and a weak alcohol ordinance. Fortunately, ongoing work by the Taney County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) and recent community assessments has highlighted the growing need for substance use prevention within the county,” said Williams. “The coalition has been instrumental in the passage of a local alcohol ordinance and the delivery of responsible beverage service trainings in Branson. Despite these successes, ADAPT recognizes there is more work to be done, particularly with the expansion of compliance checks to the more rural areas of the county and the establishment of a Good Neighbor Program to highlight retailers partnering with the coalition to prevention underage drinking.”
As a result of community support, the Branson Underage Drinking Prevention Coalition was formed in May 2008. During the next two years, the coalition developed and implemented a comprehensive strategic plan to address underage drinking issues in Branson, but also conducted a more comprehensive needs assessment related to youth substance use. As a result, the coalition expanded its target area to all of Taney County and its scope to address other youth substance use issues, including underage tobacco use and prescription drug misuse, and changed its name in May 2010 to the Taney County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT). Since its change, the coalition has supported the passage of Branson’s smoke-free policy and Taney County’s prescription drug monitoring program, as well as quarterly compliance checks on Branson’s alcohol retailers with passing rates averaging 94 percent.
“With a new youth population exposed every year, the coalition acknowledges that substance use prevention is an ongoing and sometimes difficult effort,” said Williams. “However, celebrating the small victories, collaborating with passionate volunteers, and finding innovative ideas by working side-by-side with youth will inspire you to persevere and actually pay off in the end. We may never know how we have touched a life, but feel confident that your efforts are leading to a better tomorrow for future generations!”