Smokers beware in Richlands.

At its Feb. 14 meeting town council approved a public smoking ordinance that regulates the use of tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaporizers in the town limits. The law prohibits smoking in retail and service establishments, indoor service lines, public buildings, places of entertainment, public restrooms, elevators, schools and publicly owned parks and recreation areas.

The ordinance does allow for designated smoking areas in parks and other recreation areas. Violating the ordinance is a class IV misdemeanor and carries up to a $250 fine.

The ordinance was approved after a public hearing at which all the speakers favored the ordinance. Josh Osborne, Craig Earls and Ginger Branton all came to the podium and ask the co0uncil to approve the ordinance.

Earls, president of Richlands Little League said smoking at the little league fields was almost impossible to stop without an ordinance against it. While he didn’t speak at the hearing, Recreation Director Fred Phillips said smoking was a problem at all of the town’s recreation facilities and he had no way to stop it. Councilman Doug Ratliff said he could not vote for the ordinance unless the recreation department and other areas had designated smoking areas.

After agreeing on that and the need to put up signs telling people smoking was prohibited council approved the ordinance.  They agreed to waive the second reading and pass it under emergency status putting it in effect immediately.

The town police department will be responsible for enforcing the ordinance.

[In other action council:]

*Heard from Corbin Stone of Robinson-Farmer and Cox that the town received a clean audit and was in solid financial shape.

*Heard from Earls about the plans for the upcoming little League season.

*Approved a special use permit for Kyle Anthony.

*Heard from Ernest Lowe about plans for a flag display at the police department.

*Received updates from Town Manager Tim Taylor about the section house project and the West Fork Sewer project.

*Received an update on the capital improvement project planned for the water treatment plant.

*Scheduled a joint public hearing with the planning commission for Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

*Met in executive session to discuss personnel with no action taken.

*Appointed Connie Allen as the town clerk.

*Adjourned until March 7 at 7:30 p.m.


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