By BRIAN SMITH
By a unanimous 5-0 vote, Weatherford City Council members voted to keep their current nonsmoking ordinance intact Tuesday night, reversing a decision made last month affecting the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
At the council’s last meeting May 27, the council had voted 3-2 to draft an amendment to the ordinance allowing for private clubs to allow smoking in their establishments after members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4746 had asked the council to do so. At that time and with a large contingency of VFW, Men’s Auxiliary and Ladies’ Auxiliary members in the chambers, VFW spokesman Roger Blair said there are a few nights a month where fundraisers are held and open to the general public but, for the most part, the club is open to members only.
He told the council the ordinance has hurt the post’s fundraising efforts and said the VFW is about 60 percent smokers.
The ordinance went into effect April 26.
Since the last meeting, city staff had an amendment to the no-smoking ordinance drawn up, stating “veterans groups” as defined by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code would be exempt from the ordinance.
Mayor Dennis Hooks and every council member said they had been contacted either by e-mail or in person by nonsmokers of the VFW group wishing to keep the ordinance intact. Mayor Pro Tem Craig Swancy said he had received five e-mails, one which stated the VFW membership was 60 percent non-smoking.
At the May 27 meeting, council member Jeff Robinson had asked the VFW to take a vote on what the membership wanted to do before the council would discuss a possible amendment. All of the approximately 40 to 50 members in attendance voted to ask the council to amend the ordinance with no one asking for a change.
Council member Waymon Hamilton said Tuesday night if the ordinance “was good enough for the average citizen, it should be good enough for veterans too.”
Council member Heidi Wilder, who made the motion to deny the amendment, said making an amendment to place one group above any other group when it comes to the health and public safety of all was wrong.