WASHINGTON — Smoke Free Washington’s efforts to convince members of the city council to ban smoking in all work places failed on Monday night, even as about 15 people from the group met in front of city council chambers wearing their signature blue and green Smoke Free Washington shirts and chanted, “smoke free air!”
The ordinance, which would have prohibited smoking in all workplaces and other public places, did not receive enough votes to be read.
Councilmen Blake Chambers and councilman Eric Bassler voted in favor of reading the ordinance while councilmen Jim Greene, Mike Singleton, Louis Fleck and Jerry Sidebottom all voted against the reading. Councilman Allen Brown was absent.
Chambers said, “I thought it (the ordinance) should have been read. That doesn’t mean I would have voted for it. In fact, I would have voted against it. I don’t know how many members of the group I’ve attempted to talk to but I’ll explain myself again. I believe those places have a right to choose. I believe those employees have a right to choose. The smoky corner tavern is a slice of Americana.”
“People were saying it wasn’t safe to work in certain places but there are other jobs available. Sometimes we work places that are dangerous. If you are a firefighter or a policeman, your job is dangerous. If you don’t want to take dangers, you don’t have to work there,” said Singleton.
“People don’t have to go to clubs or bars if they feel it is a danger to their health.”
Council members and Mayor Joe Wellman thanked the Smoke Free Washington group for their efforts.
“It’s great to see so much passion coming from both sides,” said Wellman.
In other business
Wellman said that the bacteria issues at Waterworld are now under control and the pool has reopened. Representatives from Trilogy Health Services were on hand to discuss their proposed plans to build a 100 bed facility on Troy Road. The facility, which is considered a health campus, would offer assisted living, transitional and rehabilitation services as well as skilled nursing care. If the rezoning for the properties happens, Trilogy, which owns other facilities in Jasper, Vincennes and Petersburg among others, plans to break ground in three to four months. The health campus would employ about 100 people and would have an estimated payroll of $3 million.