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O’Fallon City Council Talks Enforcing Smoking Ban, Approves Purchase of All-inclusive Playground Equipment

On Thursday, the council heard plans for enforcing the city's Smoke Free Air Act and took a step closer to building a playground for children of all abilities.

The takes effect in a little more a month, but O’Fallon officials have already begun efforts to educate the public and business owners on the requirements.

City Administrator Keith Riesberg briefed the council with an overview on plans to enforce the Smoke Free Air Act at the workshop on Thursday evening.

Riesberg said the city is following the lead of other municipalities that have implemented a ban, and has begun efforts to remind the public that the law has been adopted and spell out the requirements.

O'Fallon businesses and residents were notified that the smoke-free air ordinance takes effect on June 16 by mail and e-newsletter last week. The has also sent information to local businesses.

The city has also set up a website where residents and business owners can read more about requirements and how they can expect the law to be enforced. 

“By doing that extensive outreach, what we’ve seen in other communities, is once the ordinance takes effect, there is very little enforcement action required,” the city administrator said.

The city has also set up a phone number to report violations. Residents with complaints can call 636-379-5533. Director of Public Relations Tom Drabelle said the number will be in service closer to June 16.

Riesberg said code enforcement staff will be available to answer calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Calls coming in after hours will be forwarded to the  non-emergency line, where dispatch will log the complaints and submit to code enforcement for follow-ups.

The smoke-free air ordinance states that no smoking signs must be posted at the entrance of every public place where smoking is prohibited.

Riesberg said the American Cancer Society is collaborating with the city to mail window signs to O’Fallon hospitality businesses. Drabelle said business owners can also pick up the signs at City Hall, print a version from the city website or use an existing generic no smoking sign.

During Thursday’s workshop, Ward 5 Councilman Mike Pheney asked Riesberg how city staff would investigate complaints of violations.

“What we’re intending to do, is on the first complaint, make note of it and follow up with the business,” Riesberg said. “Our code-enforcement officer will then meet with that business and remind them of the requirements, remind them that the business can be held responsible and fined.”

Riesberg said if complaints ensue, the code enforcement officer will follow up and both the business and patron could be fined.

Smokers who violate the terms of the smoking ordinance face fines up to $50. Business owners who fail to comply face up to $500 fines and possible suspension of licenses or permits. The ordinance states that each day a violation occurs is considered a separate violation.

During the meeting after the workshop, council approved an agreement with Cunningham and Associates and Cre8tive Play for the purchase and construction of the All-inclusive Playground.

The nature-themed playground is slated to be built in this summer. It will be approximately 22,000 square feet and combine several climbing elements, ramps, slides, swings and musical instruments.

With $515,836 budgeted from the city and a $250,000 grant from the Developmental Disabilities Resource Board, Managing Director of Parks and Recreation Cindy Springer told O’Fallon Patch in February that the project had 75 percent of the funds needed to build and had $260,000 to go.

On Thursday, Springer said the city has reached around 50 percent of its outside funding goal. The “Let’s Play” trivia night held on April 29 at the O’Fallon Elk’s Lodge raised between $18,000 and $19,000 for the project scheduled to break ground on June 4.

The city is still offering throughout the summer to raise funds for the playground. This Saturday, residents can participate in a “dine-in night” at to help out. Participants can print a flier from the city’s website and present it at the restaurant from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. to have a portion of the proceeds donated to the playground fund.

Springer said the city can only purchase the playground equipment they have the funding for, and if the entire goal is not met, there are small pieces of the project that will be put on hold until the money is in.

BillHannegan May 15, 2011 at 09:10 PM
O'Fallon bars got mugged by outside 501c3s like Tobacco Free St. Louis and the American Cancer Society. They are completely justified in ignoring this law until it can be put back on the ballot for a full vote. Acording to a USATODAY article, bars that flout bans can make more money than before! http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-12-06-bars-ignore-smoking-bans_N.htm
BillHannegan May 15, 2011 at 09:19 PM
The American Cancer Society put a smoking ban on the Ohio ballot which promised to exempt mom and pop bars as well as private clubs. After the ban passed, the ACS went to court to have these bars and clubs included. In response, huge numbers of Ohio establishments now ignore the ACS sponsored ban. Check out this list along with the very entertaining comments. http://www.smokechoke.com/
Jim Frain May 16, 2011 at 12:46 AM
I find it very disturbing and quite unlawful for Mr. Hannegan to state that "O'Fallon bars got mugged" and to advise them to ignore the law until it goes back on the ballot. Mr. Hannegan is not a resident of O'Fallon....He was not a voter in this election and he clearly has no authority to advise our businesses to ignore the law. I believe that our Police Department and our Code Enforcement Department are composed of well-trained, quality individuals and they are more than capable of calmly and professionally maintaining this ordinace voted on favorably by 73% of our voters. The city has a detailed informational program that is going out to the businesses and residents in O'Fallon. Mr. Hannegan needs to allow O'Fallon to take care of themselves without his "break the law" advice. We are a city of laws Mr. Hannegan and we work to abide by them...Your advice to "flout bans and make more money than before" is totally wrong, unsolicited and in my opinion, illegal. Councilman Jim Pepper is a strong advocate against the smoking ban but he is not suggesting that our businesses break the law. And, he is allowed the opportunity to express his views for O'Fallon because he is an elected official. You are not. Please, allow O'Fallon Officials, Businesses and Residents To Take Care of O'Fallon.
BillHannegan May 16, 2011 at 06:50 AM
Mr. Frain, it is always a good thing to resist unjust laws, just as the founders of our country resisted British tyranny with the Boston Tea Party and our grandparents overbearing government by flouting Prohibition. Of course, I can only make suggestions. It is really up to each individual O'Fallon business owner to set his own smoking policy. And I believe the wishes of that owner concerning smoking should always be respected by all others.
Elizabeth May 24, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Correction Mr. Frain. 73% of 19% of O'Fallon voters passed the bill, or 7212 out of roughly 50,000. It is true, O'Fallon is a city of laws. Sadly, it used to be a city of freedom of choice too. I would also point out to you, Mr. Frain, that freedom of speech still exists and while I disagree with some of his advice, Mr. Hannegan has a right to respond to a public article. Surely you are not implying that only elected officials be allowed to voice opinion?

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