Buckhannon smoking ban receives late resistance

A recently passed ordinance banning the use of tobacco products in public parks and recreational events is receiving some resistance from citizens.

The smoking ban will become law May 4, and it will apply to various areas during citywide events, including the West Virginia Strawberry Festival.

Although the ordinance already was approved, council members say there are some who are opposed to it. These individuals did not speak up when the City Council considered the ordinance, but are on the agenda to speak at the next City Council meeting at 7 p.m. May 2 at Buckhannon City Hall.

While the ordinance was being considered by the City Council, there were citizens who spoke out in support of its passage.

Students who participate in the Freeman-Sheldon Research Group RAZE thanked Buckhannon City Council Thursday for approving the ordinance prohibiting the use of tobacco products in public parks and recreational areas. Seth Blake, a student of Buckhannon-Upshur High School, said FSRG RAZE is a student-led initiative against tobacco. He also said statistics show secondhand smoke kills 50,000 people a year.

Chris Eddy, another student at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, said, “The children, young adults, adults and seniors of Buckhannon, we really appreciate all (of City Council’s) work and desire to see this pass just as badly as we wanted it to pass.”

Councilman Ron Pugh said the ordinance might not have passed as quickly as it did had it not been for the voices of the students who spoke to City Council in support of the ordinance prior its passage.

“It’s comforting to see you guys here and to know that our country is in good hands in the future,” Pugh said.

In a letter addressed to the City Council, the Upshur County Tobacco Prevention Coalition also expressed thanks at the passage of the ordinance.

In other news, the Buckhannon City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance aimed at regulating the activities at a local recycling center.

The ordinance targets the problems that occur at the Crossroads Recycling Center near Walmart and the Solid Waste Transfer Station and Recycling Center on Mudlick Road. The areas have been subject to littering, improper recycling and contamination of recyclable materials. The ordinance establishes fines for offenses. Violations of the proposed ordinance, if it is enacted, could run between $100 and $500.

Councilman Dave Thomas spoke in general about the enforcement of various ordinances. He said ordinances, such as the smoking or recycling regulation ordinances, often are not easily enforceable.

“If people would just consider other people and be sensitive, we could do away with a lot of rules. We just need to be more sensitive to our neighbors and respectable. It’s a tidal wave of insensitivity, and that’s unfortunate,” Thomas said.

Other business conducted at the recent council meeting included:

The hiring of the law firm Busch, Zurbuch and Thompson PLLC to represent the city of Buckhannon and Police Chief Matt Gregory in a litigation brought forth by former officer Loralie N. Hissam. Councilman went into executive session to discuss the litigation.

The approval of the use of four all-terrain vehicles by the Upshur County Office of Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Medical Squad during the West Virginia Strawberry Festival.