Council hears bout going smoke free, appointments

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Becoming 100 percent smoke free was the topic of a presentation city of Picayune council members heard during Tuesday’s meeting.

Picayune became partially smoke free when the council passed an ordinance in 2009, banning the habit in all of the restaurants. But Mississippi Tobacco Free Program Director Kim Hart addressed city leaders about moving the effort a step further.

In order to become 100 percent smoke free, smoking would have to be banned in all work places and enclosed public places, in addition to restaurants.

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Hart represents Hancock and Pearl River counties. She said there are no communities in those counties that are 100 percent smoke free, so she wants to change that.

Currently there are 82 communities in the state that have reached the goal.

Hart presented the council with some statistics during her presentation, including the fact that 512 people a year in the state die from second hand smoke exposure and lung cancer now exceeds breast cancer as the leading cause of death in women.

Hart said the city could receive $5,000 in a technical assistance grant if the council moves towards changing their ordinance at their next meeting on June 17.

The council did not take action on the matter.

A motion to install two electric security fences at Friendship Park was approved at the meeting. City Operations Director Harvey Miller said the fences would help alleviate the task currently assigned to firefighters and police officers who currently close and lock the gate after hours.

The city began locking the gate after several instances of vandalism occurred, including the arson at Kid’s Kingdom and windows broken at concession stands.

“Again it’s automatic and it’s a grant,” Miller said.

A motion to approve the installation was approved unanimously.

The council approved a motion to appoint seven members to the city’s Planning Commission. The number of members in the commission has been reduced from nine to seven because the board was having trouble forming a quorum. Tuesday’s decision replaced outgoing member Lavar Thompson. Appointed members include Martha Sheppard, Martha Ford, Dennis Collier, Bryan Cooper, Luddia Williams, Patricia Barnett and David Moneyhan, who is replacing Thompson.

After council member Larry Breland attempted to table the matter, he ultimately objected to the motion to approve the appointments.

While it was not clear why he voted against the motion, he did ask for more diversity in the commission. Mayor Ed Pinero said the council will consider adding two more members to the commission to address his concern.

Andy Cooper also took a minute to address the council on the construction of the missing section of Highland Parkway. He said work is underway, but the recent rainstorms put a damper on progress. Should the weather hold out for the rest of the summer, the road could be complete by then, Cooper said.

Council member Tammy Valente asks curious drivers to stay off the road until it is complete because tire tracks in the wet mud cause the work crews to have to double their efforts.

The next council meeting will be June 17, at 5 p.m.