County-wide smoke-free ordinance discussed; Magistrates have differing opinions on the issue

Published 3:34 pm Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Boyle County Fiscal Court discussed a possible ordinance to make the county smoke-free at its meeting on Tuesday.

Both Danville and Perryville already have smoke-free ordinances. With the one in Perryville enacted recently, magistrates said it has done surprisingly well.

The ordinance in Danville has been in effect since 2008. The ban forbids smoking inside public places like restaurants, stores, and other workplaces. Citizens also cannot smoke within 10 feet of building entrances. The county would likely base its ordinance on the one in Danville.

Boyle County Public Health Director Brent Blevins gave his opinion on the matter, showing support for the ordinance. He said it’s a good idea both economically and for everyone’s health, and doesn’t believe there are any downsides.

Blevins said there’s enough evidence to say smoking indoors affects other people around due to second-hand smoke inhalation, which can cause health problems in many people.

“It’s not so much that they are going to smoke at home, or in their car or outside; it’s just smoking in public, private-type businesses where other people are,” Blevins said. “To me that’s the difference because [smoking] affects other people in that establishment.”

Magistrate Jason Cullen expressed support for the ordinance, saying it would attract businesses and promote tourism.

“It makes it easier if we’re trying to attract businesses to come here,” Cullen said. “We’re 1,000-plus employees short in this county, so the more stipulations an actual business has to put on who they’ll hire makes it harder for them to actually get that employee.”

Magistrate Phil Sammons said he thinks the county would be going too far by telling people they can’t smoke in public.

“It sends a clear message to me that we’re being overruling; because if a guy’s got a little welding shop and he’s got one employee, and he’s got friends coming in and most of them smoke, and [then they] can’t come in if they smoke; I’m not for that in the county,” Sammons said. “These small operations don’t need it.”

Magistrates cited enforcement as an obstacle. Cullen, who owned The Hub coffeehouse and cafe on Main Street for seven years, said people would smoke right outside the entrance on a regular basis. Cullen would always ask people to go 10 feet around the corner. He said he hardly got complaints in doing so.

“There’s always enforcement issues, it doesn’t matter what ordinance you have; for the most part it seems like there’s always an enforcement issue somewhere,” Blevins said.

Sammons said most businesses, especially restaurants, have smoke-free policies of their own, and therefore do not need a county ordinance. He and Magistrate Ronnie Short are against the ordinance.

Magistrate Tom Ellis did not express an opinion. The other three magistrates are in support of it. There will be a presentation of the ordinance at the next meeting.

IT Director Bill Nichols announced that the county has launched its new website. They changed the website address from boylecountyky.com to boylecountyky.gov. All links ending in “.com” will automatically redirect to the new site.

Nichols said the site is still under some development, and may experience some issues until it is completely done.

Nichols showed the court some new pages, including a county calendar for meetings and other events. He also wants to implement community events into the calendar. There is also a complete directory with contact information for all county staff, magistrates and businesses on the website.

He said they will continue adding some things to the site, and magistrates can suggest to him what to add.

In other business, the Fiscal Court:
• Issued an emergency declaration to immediately purchase a new ambulance. With emergency powers requested by Judge Executive Howard Hunt and approved by the court, EMS did not have to go through a normal bid and approval process to buy an ambulance.

EMS Director Mike Rogers said they had purchased new ambulances recently, but due to a high demand for ambulances, the county will not receive them until at least next year. Their current ambulances are aging and several have broken down.

Rogers had found two demo model ambulances available right away. One of them was sold within three days.

He said if the court does not approve a purchase of the other model soon, they may lose it and the county would be stuck without another ambulance for months.

“Far too often we run with just the amount of trucks we have, so if we have three crews running a day, we have three trucks running and that’s it,” Rogers said. “If one more breaks, we’ll have more people than trucks. We can’t meet the volume without having ambulances.”

Cullen said Boyle has reached out to other counties like Lincoln and Garrard for ambulance aid three times more the past year than any other year.

Without the emergency declaration, the county would not have another vehicle for at least nine to 10 months.

With the approval, EMS will receive the ambulance March 1.

• Reappointed Agnes Bartleson to the Boyle County Health Board.

• Cullen is planning to have a Pulse of the People open forum for district four on Feb. 10.

• Public Works Director Duane Campbell said after several recent snowstorms, the county’s salt supply is in good shape. They’ve had two salt deliveries which arrived on time.

Plows have gone out five times. They had some mechanical issues with a plow early on, but were able to get it fixed.

“We’ve been fortunate in the way we’ve been able to fight these storms,” Campbell said.

Sammons thanked Campbell for him and his crew’s dedication to snow removal this year.