By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
Could Barbourville be the next Kentucky city to ban smoking in public places?
The Knox County Health Coalition hopes so.
Armed with visuals, facts and other information, two coalition members made their case Thursday for the city to pass a no-smoking ordinance.
The ordinance plea was part of a presentation coalition members Susan Liford and Belinda Pritchard gave on the coalition’s growth since their founding in 2010.
The presentation was made during the Barbourville City Council’s regular meeting at City Hall.
Towards the end of their presentation, Liford — the Knox County Health Department’s director — made a request to Mayor David Thompson and city council members.
“I would like to see Barbourville step up and take a stand on making this city pass an ordinance banning smoking in public places,” she stated.
Liford mentioned several other cities in the region and in the state, including Corbin, London and Williamsburg, that have no-smoking ordinances in place.
Pritchard — a nurse and health educator with the Knox County Health Department, and chairwoman of the health coalition — then showed graphs that dealt with the effects of smoking in some Kentucky cities.
At one point, she held up a chart showing air quality samples the department took from several Barbourville businesses and restaurants where smoking is allowed.
Pritchard noted the results were not encouraging.
Holding up a picture of a little boy, Liford again urged the council to pass a no-smoking ordinance.
“We would be glad to help you with drawing up an ordinance. … If we don’t do this for ourselves, let’s do it for our kids. They’re depending on us,” she said.
Earlier, Pritchard and Liford told the council about the coalition’s activities since it began in 2010. Because of grants they received since their founding, the coalition was able to apply money to projects and improvements in five focus areas: nutrition, secondhand smoke, dental care, obesity and physical activity.
Both Liford and Pritchard focused on activities, programs and events that related to the focus areas, such as Family Fun Fitness Day, the Sandy Bottoms Nature Trail, and the Knox County Farmers’ Market.
The coalition also did a community health needs assessment, which listed substance abuse and what to do about the problem as the number one health concern in Barbourville and Knox County. The second one was tobacco use, while chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke, was third on the list.
During the council meeting, Josh Callihan, general manager of the Barbourville Utility Commission, said his department is working on relocating lines on the upcoming Ky. 11 bridge project in the city, adding the project would begin soon.
Callihan also commended the city utility crews for their long hours and hard work during this winter’s weather, and reminded the council about the electric usage during the bitter cold days.
“I want people to understand that electricity is a metered service. It’s based on what you use. … Everybody across the nation is experiencing high utility bills,” he said.
Thompson brought up the city looking into “smart meters” — advanced electric meters that identify energy consumption in more detail than conventional meters. The technology in a smart meter is far more advanced, with the meters having the ability to communicate information by a secured network back and forth between the customer and the utility.
Thompson added the smart meters would allow customers to pre-pay for their electricity needs, which would eliminate deposits, and allows customers to see how much electricity they use.
“It allows people who don’t have credit a way to establish credit, and it shows how they can be frugal in their energy purchases,” a man in the audience said about the smart meters.
In their report, the city’s Street Department mentioned the Arctic blast Barbourville and Kentucky has had this winter was the coldest (in terms of freezing) since the winter of 1977. They added the city was in “OK” shape and in good supply on salt with the state highway department. But the report said, “It’s been a day-to-day battle because of the weather.”
Barbourville Tourist and Recreation Commission Director Denise Wainscott mentioned both the city and the tourism office were working on developing five biking and walking paths in the city. She added, “We’re looking at how biking and hiking can be another layer of things to bring people here to Barbourville.”
Wainscott also reminded the council about the first-ever Barbourville BBQ Competition, a sanctioned barbecue competition event which will be held in the city on June 20-21.
Among actions taken at the session, council members reappointed Joann Maybrier and Loretta Gray to three-year terms on the city’s Code Enforcement Board.
They also approved the salaries for the mayor and council members the same as the year before. The salary for the city’s mayor remains at $12,000 a year, with the six city council members remaining at $1,200 a year for each of them.