Three Hershey families that were ticketed in April at the North Platte Recreation Center for parking in handicapped zones will contest the charges in court. Susanna Klaasmeyer, Mark Crow and Monte Davison are going to court Aug. 23 with their side of the story, attorney Russ Jones said.
Jones said a county judge will decide the fairness of the $100 citations, which were issued during an after-prom party.
Jones said he agreed to represent his clients because the overall situation seemed inherently wrong, plus there are viable legal defense arguments to make.
The troublesome episode began on April 13, when Hershey’s junior class sponsored the annual junior/senior prom. After a grand march in Hershey, most students went to restaurants in North Platte for dinner, and then to the prom dance at North Platte’s Holiday Inn Express.
Then, parents put together an after-prom party for students at the North Platte Recreation Center, renting the entire facility.
They said they wanted to provide a safe, fun environment for the students during the late night hours. The party lasted from midnight to 3:30 a.m. on April 14.
The parking lot filled up and some people parked in handicapped parking stalls.
A North Platte police officer issued parking tickets around 2 a.m., working for about 20 minutes. Five cars were ticketed. Those who were ticketed were shocked to find a $100 parking ticket on their car window when they left the post-prom party.
Police spokesman Rodney Brown said state law and city ordinances stipulate that handicapped parking is enforceable 24 hours a day.
One ticket went to the featured entertainer -- hypnotist Jeff Martin of Lincoln -- who drove to North Platte and parked near the entrance to unload and load his gear.
Several parents told the Bulletin they knew of no complaints from anyone at the party.
At the time, Crow said no one was towed and the Rec Center was not open to the public at those hours anyway.
"The whole thing has left a bad feeling with the kids of Hershey about the North Platte Police Department,” he said.
Jones said the lease agreement stated that the facility would be closed to the public during that time and the defendants generally felt that included parking areas.
On behalf of his clients, Jones said Hershey students and parents have supported North Platte businesses during proms for several years and welcome any support from North Platte residents while they fight the citations in court.