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North Manchester council hears anti-tobacco proposal

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

The North Manchester Town Council on Wednesday heard a proposal to make all public spaces smoke-free.

Dan Gray, director of the Wabash County Tobacco Free Coalition, presented information to the council which warned of the dangers of tobacco smoke in public spaces.

“We are constantly trying to improve the health of our communities,” Gray said. “We have information that shows that when communities have policies that prevent people from smoking in public to expose those who don’t smoke, the communities become a lot healthier.”

The proposal would ask the council to pass a comprehensive law which would include all public spaces, including bars, private organizations and public gathering areas, as well as prohibiting e-cigarettes from use in these locations. Gray noted this proposal would have a greater impact than an Indiana law passed in 2012, which prohibited smoking in restaurants and public businesses.

“North Manchester is known for being aggressive and being a leader,” Gray said. “Wabash County is on the map, and the state is looking at us and the things that are accomplished here. This would be one way of showing the state and showing our nation that we’re not afraid to take a stand and we are interested in the welfare of the people that are around us.”

Gray noted North Manchester has a history of passing proactive tobacco ordinances, citing when the council made all town properties tobacco free in 1997.

Gray said businesses are also more likely to relocate to communities that are smoke-free compared to communities that are not.

The council also gave an update on the push for having a full-time school resource officer in Manchester Community Schools. Council President Chalmer Tobias explained that the schools would be applying for a grant of $25,000 and the Town would be responsible for paying a total of $18,000.

“Not much has happened on that front other than on Friday morning, we have a meeting with the schools to further discuss and see where we’re at,” Tobias said.

The council provided an update regarding animal shelther funding and stated they had ceased negotiations with the Wabash County Animal Shelter, as a proposal of a per-animal basis had been rejected. Contact has since been made with the Kosciusko County Animal Welfare League.

In other business, the council:

Approved of amending wording to the Police Donation Fund, which corrected the term “traffic safety” to “public safety.”Approved of street closure requests for the Funfest Committee. The closures will take place in August.Heard an update from Manchester Police Department Chief James Kirk, who stated Officer Tyler Duncan started at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy Feb. 19 and will be gone for 15 weeks. He also thanked all emergency personell who responded to Tuesday night’s incident.Approved of renewing the Town’s trash contract. There will be no raises in prices for customers.During public comments, Tobias stated other than what information had been released to the media, the council was not at liberty to discuss the incident involving a police shooting Tuesday evening.