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Loogootee Gets Tough On moking

Last updated on Friday, July 13, 2012

(WASHINGTON) - The smoking police have been unleashed in Loogootee.

Tim Pinkham, of the Washington Times-Herald reports, prompted by a new state law, effective July 1, which bans smoking in most buildings, the Loogootee City Council Monday night banned smoking in all city vehicles, except those with an open cab. The smoking ban will be added to the city's employee handbook covering policies and procedures.

Any violators of the new city policy would receive a written warning. A second offense would result in a five-day suspension without pay, while a third offense would result in termination.

In accordance with the new state law, all city-owned buildings in Loogootee now have signs posted near each entrance stating that smoking is prohibited within eight feet of the building. The law calls for a $1,000 fine for a first offense.

City officials said the law could be enforced by any state or local law enforcement officer, or county health official.

The smoking ban covers all city-owned buildings, including those rented to non-profit agencies or private businesses.

"I don't know anyone who smoked more than my dad did, so I have sympathy for smokers," said Mayor Noel Harty.

However, the mayor stated emphatically that any fines imposed would be paid by those individuals who violated the law, but not by the city.

In other business, the council approved a voluntary appeal to the public for water conservation, which was recommended by Utilities Manager Bo Wilson. He said the city's water supply has not yet been threatened by the recent drought, but his department checks the water level in the six wells on a regular basis.

Although there was some rain over the weekend, Wilson believes the drought will continue for the rest of the summer.

Councilman Rick Norris suggested the Board of Public Works and Safety no longer approve utility adjustments, as one means to stop the waste of water.

Each month the board routinely approves requests for adjustments to sewer bills from property owners who either filled a swimming pool or claimed an outdoor hose was left on.

The property owners always have to pay for the water used, but the adjustment lowers the sewer bill. Norris believes if adjustments were not allowed, the hit in the wallet of property owners would cause them to voluntarily stop wasting water.

A special council meeting was scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday to discuss the proposed 2013 city budget. The councilmen received the proposal Monday night from Clerk-Treasurer Nancy Jones.

During the June 11 meeting, the council had approved Harty's recommendation for all full-time city employees to receive a 50-cent-per-hour raise next year, while part-time employees would receive a 25-cent-per-hour raise.

The councilmen declined a pay raise for next year, which will keep their salaries at $4,199.78. However, raises were approved for Harty and Jones, who will earn $32,177.60 and $33,425.60, respectively, this year.

The council approved a few other minor changes concerning salaries for next year.

The approved changes will be incorporated into a new salary ordinance, which will be presented for final approval at the Aug. 13 meeting.

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