A proposal to limit smoking at Monett's North Park received several public endorsements during Friday's monthly meeting of the Monett City Council.
Leesa Ginther, a public health nurse for Barry County and founder of Breathe Easy Barry County, was the first to speak when Mayor Jim Orr opened public comment on the ordinance to limit smoking to designated areas at North Park, specifically to parking lots.
The proposal stemmed from ongoing complaints by people attending games at the park's ball fields. Smokers had been congregating near the concession stand.
Ginther said smoking rates in Barry County run 3 percent higher than the Missouri average. Smoking by high school seniors runs 28 percent.
"The 2012 Behaviorial Health Profile shows that 16 percent of our youth in grades six to 12 have smoked in the last 30 days, compared to an average of 13 percent in Missouri," Ginther said. "A recent study done in Massachusetts showed that youth in communities with strict smoking bans were 40 percent less likely to initiate smoking than youth in communities without bans."
Ginther considered limitations of smoking "where young lungs are at play" to increase positive role modeling for children.
Ken Gaspar, with the Monett Youth Baseball and Softball League, said he would help enforce the proposed regulation when he is at the park.
Residents Mariann and Jim Carrier asked council members to consider establishing a smoking ban in all public places. Orr said there is an ordinance banning smoking within 25 feet of city buildings. A work session could be scheduled to discuss a wider limit, he added.
Commissioner Mike Brownsberger said action by individual industries has been more effective than laws imposed by the city council. Ginther added Jack Henry and Associates made its campus tobacco free and that the Barry County Connections Coalition offers grants to businesses to help with smoking cessation. A restaurant guide has praised establishments that have gone smoke free.
No one spoke in opposition to the ban at North Park. Final passage of the ordinance was scheduled for the next regular monthly meeting on Aug. 20.
Ginther asked the city to use the black and yellow signs provided by the Barry County Connections Coalition or something similar to designate the smoking restriction. She said the signs are in use at other parks in the county and will bring a uniform message to the public.
Council members approved a resolution to purchase lights for the North Park ball fields through Musco Sports Lighting. City Administrator Dennis Pyle said the financing arrangement for the $264,000 project had been worked out.
A $50,000 grant had been secured from Baseball Tomorrow, representing Major League Baseball. A $15,000 grant was approved from the national Babe Ruth organization. The Monett Youth Baseball and Softball League had raised more than its $60,000 portion, all of which would go into the effort, said league president Kirk Verhoff. The Monett R-1 School District pledged $40,000, and the city would cover the remaining $100,000.
Pyle said poles and lights would arrive in August and probably be placed by city electric crews in September.
Council members approved final passage of three new ordinances putting new electric rates in place that Empire District Electric Company began charging on June 1. A fourth ordinance raised the minimum residential charge for electricity by 30 percent.
A fourth ordinance was approved formally authorizing the city to prosecute utility customers for making false statements on their application for utility service.
Two new ordinances were introduced during the session.
Cox Monett Hospital plans to introduce formally trained security personnel. Pyle said Cox asked the city to give commissions to its new officers, giving them the authority to make arrests. The city attorney and risk management consultant reviewed the proposal and made revisions.
The security staff would be required to meet Missouri Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) requirements. Pyle said the supervisor and two staff members would agree to follow all policies and procedures of the city.
A second reading was scheduled for Aug. 20, at which time public comment on the proposal would be heard.
A real estate contract with EFCO Corporation was introduced that would sell 14 acres owned by the manufacturer in the southeast corner of the Monett Municipal Airport property to the city. Pyle said the fair market price reached was $2,400 an acre, for a total cost of $35,760.
The city would pay half of the cost at closing by Sept. 1. The balance would be paid on July 1, 2013. A second reading and public comment was scheduled for Aug. 20.
Monthly bills totaling $1,832,967.01 were paid. Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch said this was the first month the city paid the new electricity rate to Empire, raising the bill for the same amount of power by $102,000.
Major bills for the month included $1,236,960.20 to Empire; $35,000 to Water Products for new water meters; $30,000 to Fred Weber Iron Mountain Rock for stones to use on chip and seal resurfacing of city streets; $25,000 to Professional Turf Products for a new Greenmaster 3150 mower for the golf course; and $21,000 to Reavis Water Well and Construction for rebuilding a trickling filter pump at the waste treatment plant. Rauch said the pump was 12 years old and was due for repairs.