After months of discussion and tweaking, the Athens City Council considers a first reading on an ordinance prohibiting smoking, Monday.
The major change in the ordinance from the original draft is the elimination of bars from the places where smoking is not allowed.
“We don’t want to put anyone out of business, but at the same time, we need to be concerned about public health,” Councilman Jerry Don Vaught said at a March 21 special session.
City Administrator Pam Burton said at a special meeting of the council Wednesday that changes will be made to the document to eliminate the ban from businesses that derive more than 75 percent of their income from the sale of liquor.
Athens follows several Texas cities, among them Tyler, Kaufman and Jacksonville that have enacted smoking bans. Knowing it was a potentially controversial issue, last year, Mayor Randy Daniel invited downtown business owners, property owners and others who might have an interest in the downtown area, to share their ideas with city officials. That was followed by two public hearings in early 2012.
The question of whether the council should make an exception for bars was raised in the March 7 meeting. According to minutes from the meeting. Jim Ogburn appeared before the Council and said that he generally favored the ordinance and the councils efforts to protect the public from second hand smoke. He, however, asked the council to consider an exemption for Eddy’s Club which derives more than 51 percent of its revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages.
After discussion, Council member Jerry Don Vaught said he preferred the threshold for a business to be considered a bar at 75 percent liquor sales.
“If they say it’s a bar, that’s what it needs to be,” Vaught said.
Another item on the agenda Monday is discussion and possible action on an ordinance authorizing use of the city parking lot for Athens Farmers Market. The issue is being raised by D.J. Warren, who is listed as Market Manager. Warren has been working to keep the market alive in 2012. With the Athens Chamber of Commerce pulling out of the leadership role, two Athens women, D.J. Warren and Sharon Locke, began spearheading the effort to continue to give local and area produce growers a place to display their fruits and vegetables.
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Fighting for life
Family and friends have rallied around 20-year old Aaron Jenkins.
Three weeks ago Jenkins, a Mabank resident and former Trinity Valley Community College student, was diagnosed with liver cancer.
Aaron's Aunt Sheila Guill said, “He's pretty sick, but Aaron has a high pain tolerance and doesn't complain.”
Lake Palestine, Athens above levels, CCL close
Lakes Athens and Palestine are above their normal levels, while Cedar Creek Lake to the west still needs a good downpour to close the gap.
On Monday, when the average Texas lake stood at just 64.3 percent of full. Lake Athens had a reading of 440.06 feet, just above its average.
Three arrested for drugs
Drug offenses led to three Athens Police Department arrests over the weekend according to reports.
The first incident on Friday night resulted in the arrest of Joshua Paul Rogers, 25, for evading arrest and possession of a controlled substance. Rogers remained in custody on Monday, with bond set at $9,000 on the two charges.
County unemployment edges upward
Henderson County unemployment edged upward in January, falling between the state and national rates.
The January Texas Workforce Commission Report, issued on Friday, gave Henderson County a 6.1 percent reading, after a 6.0 percent rate in December. The national unemployment figure was 7.1 percent, while Texas enjoyed its lowest mark since 2008, 5.7 percent.
O’KEEFFE coming to Malakoff, April 12
Carolyn Wickwire will star in the one-woman play O’Keeffe! by Lucinda McDermott, presented by the Greater Malakoff Area Garden Club and the Malakoff Historical Society in partnership with Flower and Bone Productions, directed by Ouida White.
Color run coming to Athens
Have you been seeing those pictures on the internet of people in wild costumes, running through clouds of neon pink, blue, purple, and green and coming out looking like a rainbow?
If you have, you’ve been looking at the hottest thing to hit the walking and running world – the color run. And it’s coming to Athens on March 22 to benefit Hope Springs Water and celebrate International World Water Day.
AISD students honored for reading challenge
To get kids excited about reading and encourage more adults to spend time reading with their children, the National Education Association launched the first NEA's Read Across America day in 1998.
On March 3, NEA's Read Across America marked 17 years of celebrating reading and the birthday of Dr. Seuss.
Athens Independent School District participated in the event, but added a twist to encourage students to read more often.
The minimum standard for living
The average minimum wage worker renting a living space in Henderson County will spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on their home.
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition reports Henderson County renters would have to work 85 hours at minimum wage for a two bedroom apartment. Of the six counties in the 5th Congressional District, Henderson ranks second, behind Dallas, for the most hours required.
Chandler, BMC to settle contract
Since the beginning of the year, Chandler city officials and leaders of the Brownsboro-Murchison-Chandler Youth Foundation have worked to finalize an agreement on use of the facilities at Winchester Park.
County preparing to address roads
With hundreds of miles of pavement to deal with, three Henderson County Road and Bridge Precincts may soon be getting a tool to help them keep track of the tasks involved.
The Henderson County Information Technology Committee discussed on Wednesday whether to acquire Precinct Tracker software and will present its findings to Commissioners Court.
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