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Smoke free County?

The McCreary County Fiscal Court took the first step toward enacting a smoking ban in all public places during their meeting Thursday night.

The proposed ordinance, introduced to the Fiscal Court by the local Champions UNITE group, calls for a ban on smoking in all public places.

Smoking bans have become a hot topic at the state level recently with legislation for state-wide action passing the House last Friday by a 5-vote margin. The law would ban smoking in all public places and businesses, with a provision allowing for a designated smoking area at least 15-feet from entrances to businesses.

Despite the passage in the Democrat controlled House, there is not much confidence it will pass in the Republican led Senate.

The McCreary County ordinance calls for a similar ban, calling for a ban on all smoking in public places, businesses and places of employment.

The ban would allow for employers to set up designated smoking areas away from public traffic routes for employees who do smoke. It also establishes a fine of up to $50 for a person found violating the ordinance or a business up to $500 for continued violations.
Magistrate Jason Mann made the motion to approve the first reading, and was seconded by Magistrate Leroy “O.L.” Perry, opening the topic for discussion.

Prior to the vote, Magistrate Roger Phillips voiced his concerns with the legislation, though he is not an advocate of smoking. Phillips noted he didn’t feel it was the government’s job to act on restricting people’s rights.

“I feel as a government we can’t tell a business what to do,” Phillips said. “I have a choice to not stop there (at a business that allowed smoking). I feel is it the owner’s responsibility.”

Judge Stephens acknowledged Phillips’ concerns, and admitted it was a tough decision for the court to make.

“I am against government reaching in too far,” he said. “But smoking can affect everyone.”
When the vote was called, Phillips was the only “nay” vote.

Since an ordinance needs two readings before being enacted as a law, as well as an opportunity for public input, a public meeting will be held on Thursday, March 12 at 5:00 p.m. to hear public comments on the proposed ordinance prior to the March meeting of the Fiscal Court.

Citizens who wish to comment on the topic, but will be unable to attend can submit their comments to the Judge Executive’s Office prior to the meeting.

In other actions Thursday:

Two other potential ordinances had their first readings Thursday. The first amends an ordinance already in place concerning local designated flood zones. While the second concerns emergency management.

The Court approved the receipt of $11,893.50 in excess funds from County Clerk Eric Haynes’ office. By law, any excess fees generated in that office are to be turned over to the Fiscal Court.

The money was put to use to purchase a cargo trailer and to rebuild the voting house in the Elm precinct.

Haynes requested the Court use $4,000 to purchase the cargo trailer to help him transport voting machines to each precinct before elections. Haynes stated he has had to borrow trailers in the past to move the $100,000 worth of equipment. When not in use by the Clerk’s office, the trailer can be used by other county entities.

Another $4,000 was approved to rebuild the voting house in the Elm precinct. The old block building has been damaged by flood in the past and had a mold problem, Haynes said. Plans are to build a new structure, raised against flooding, using county labor.
The Court approved both expenditures.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet informed the Court of their plans to resurface the majority of KY 896, commonly known as the Eagle/Sawyer Road, as part of their RuralSecondary roads program. The project will cost an estimated $538,353, leaving $285,027 in the fund. The magistrates were asked to submit suggestions for possible road improvements in their districts, using the flex funds available.

McCreary County EMS/911 Director Jimmy Barnett informed the Court that the Ambulance Service has received their newest ambulance, paid for partly out of grant funds and EMS fees. He added he hoped to receive more grant funding in the future to refurbish a third unit.

Economic Development Director Susan Stephens was asked on the status of unpaid loans through the County’s loan program. She stated two individuals have come in recently to arrange payments, while the remainder of the outstanding loans have been turned over to County Attorney Conley Chaney to begin legal action.

The magistrates held discussion over the hiring of Chris Slaven to the Community Service Coordinator.

Judge Stephens made the recommendation to move Slaven, who had been working as a part time litter abatement worker, to the full time position after Donnie Morgan left the position for another job.

At first no magistrate forwarded a motion to approve the move, but after Judge Stephens and Deputy Judge Andrew Powell spoke highly of the work Slaven had done since being hired, Magistrate Jason Mann made the motion to hire.

Magistrate Phillips said he had heard a complaint against Slaven for doing donuts in the parking lot of the recycling center on the forklift.

Slaven admitted he spun the forklift once, inside the facility, and stated it was an accident due to the surprising power of the machine. He swore a similar incident would not happen again.

A 40-plus minute executive session closed out the meeting after Magistrate Phillips requested the closed-door session to discuss a personnel matter. No action was taken during the session.

The next regular scheduled meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be on Thursday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m.

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