County to consider ban on tobacco
Smoking and tobacco use has become an issue at the Washington County Courthouse.
Washington County Auditor Dan Widmer said he would like to see tobacco use banned from all county property at the supervisor meeting Tuesday morning. He said this was an issue the board spoke about last fall but didn’t take any action on it. He thought action was needed.
Board chairman Richard Young said smoking around the courthouse has become an issue recently. Smokers block the main entrance on the west side, especially when a trial is taking place or court is being held.
“I actually had to ask them if I could get through while they were standing there smoking, so if we’re going to use this as our main entrance it’s not a good place to have six to eight people standing out there smoking cigarettes,” Young added.
Supervisor Stan Stoops asked if there nonsmokers were also lingering at the west entrance during court. Young said it was both.
“Is there someplace where we could designate?” Stoops said. “Instead of shutting it off to everybody.”
Young said he didn’t know. He also pointed out the smokers were throwing cigarette butts into the flowerbed and the building and grounds crew are cleaning them up.
“What we’re proposing here, are we talking strictly the courthouse or any county property?” supervisor Bob Yoder asked.
Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. said it was up to the supervisors to decide on the countywide policy.
“Well, that’s the question I’m bringing [up],” Yoder said. “Are we going to just enforce it here at the courthouse only or all county property?”
Stoops said he thought they were just discussing the courthouse.
If they made it a policy countywide, Young said it would be hard to enforce. He said they should focus on the courthouse first and discuss with Washington County engineer Jacob Thorius whether or not he would like to have a smok- free policy at his buildings.
“My understanding now is Iowa Code already covers this,” Thorius said. “You’re not supposed to smoke on county property period. John [Gish, Washington County Attorney] could double-check that for you.”
Seward asked Thorius if the code said county property or county buildings. Thorius said all county property.
Yoder asked Thorius is his employees were allowed to smoke in county vehicles. Thorius said no, which is why some go to their personal vehicle to smoke.
“And it was a recommendation from the gentleman that did the safety and security inspection last fall to get rid of the ashtrays because it would be a good place to place an explosive and then take off and wait for the bang,” Widmer said.
If the supervisors decided to follow what the Iowa Code said then it would mean having a “no tobacco” policy at the courthouse, Young said.
“With just respects to the courthouse it’s already prohibited within and around the property itself,” Gish said.
Stoops said if it was already prohibited, then the supervisors didn’t really need to act on it. Gish said he was correct.
Seward asked if anyone was aware of what the code says for enforcing it. Thorius said he didn’t believe there was anything specifying how to enforce the policy in Iowa Code.
Seward said he would like to have Gish to review possible actions to review again next week. The item was tabled by the supervisors until next week.
Other items discussed at the supervisors meeting included:
quarterly reports from the Treasurer and Sheriff’s offices;
approving personnel change requests for Washington County Conservation, the Auditor’s office and Board of Supervisors;
tabling the 28E agreement with Southeast Iowa LINK Mental Health and Disability Services;
and approving East Central Iowa Council of Governments as a consultant for the hazard mitigation planning and grant administration. The county will pay $7,500 for their services, not an in-kind match as previously thought. This will be budgeted into the 2018-19 fiscal year, Young said.