In June 26 - July 2 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
RUSSELL SPRINGS - If enacted it could have been the largest smoking ban in Kentucky.
Officials at the Lake Cumberland District Health Department could have banned smoking in public places within all of the ten counties the agency oversees.
A resolution in support of making that decision was soundly defeated at the quarterly meeting of that board in Russell Springs Tuesday night.
Board Chairman Tim Hicks, who is the judge-executive of Cumberland County, told the board members that, according to the Commonwealth's laws, the agency had the power to ban smoking in public places like restaurants and other businesses if that was the will of the board's membership.
There were quiet and impassioned speeches both in support and in opposition of the proposed resolution, which would have endorsed enacting such a regulation.
In the end there were 19 votes against the resolution and 7 in favor.
"This is the second time this board has voted on this resolution and for the second time it has been voted down," Hicks told the other judges, doctors, health workers and citizens who make up the board.
He recommended a vote of another sort.
"I don't want this to come up again at a meeting where there may be a quorum but where all of the counties are not represented," Hicks said.
A 17 to 6 vote passed a resolution that the board would not take up such a measure again unless two-thirds of the board signed a petition asking for the issue to come to a vote, and the measure stipulated that notice of the meeting to consider such action would be posted in the newspaper 90 days in advance of such a meeting.
One of Russell County's representatives on the board, County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner explained that last time the issue had come up most of the county judges were away at a conference and in his words, "the doctors almost passed it."
"I would want something like this advertised in the local paper so that people would know about it," he added.
Another contentious issue at the meeting was that of pay raises. The district's budget included a 5 percent pay raise for health department employees.
Judges from other counties voiced opposition to this when recommended by the agency's Executive Director Shawn Crabtree. The statement by several was that their county employees were either getting no raise or a much smaller one.
Crabtree made it clear that the agency had budged to provide all the services they do, and that any excess funds went to improve or increase services, buy supplies and to give workers a raise, as outlined in the agency's procedures manual.
The budget passed as presented. Garner voted in favor, stating that the employees deserved the raise and it was because the agency functioned so efficiently that the money was available to provide that raise. That efficiency was attributed to the worker's efforts.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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