Weatherford Democrat

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May 29, 2014

Victory for VFW?

Council to amend smoking ordinance for private clubs

WEATHERFORD —

By BRIAN SMITH

City of Weatherford officials have agreed to look into amending the recently passed ordinance banning smoking in eating establishments with a 4-1 vote by city council members Tuesday night.

Two weeks ago when Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4746 members asked the council to allow them to smoke, saying most nights it is a private club for members only. A number of VFW and auxiliary members filled the chambers Tuesday. VFW spokesperson Roger Blair said there are a few nights a month where the post hosts steak and fish dinners, as well as a twice a year cookoff where proceeds go to a number of charitable organizations. However, Blair said there is a separate ventilation system where the public is sitting during those events that keeps them from breathing the smoke.

“Anytime the public is in the canteen during fundraising events, there is no smoking allowed,” Blair said.

Blair said the no smoking ordinance, which went into effect April 26, has hurt fundraising efforts. Blair estimated VFW members are about 60 percent smokers.

Council member Waymon Hamilton asked how many veterans are members and was told about 250 with about half being active in the organization and coming to the hall regularly. Council member Jeff Robinson, who originally brought the ordinance idea to the dais, asked Blair if a vote had been taken among the members to see what they thought.

A resounding chorus of members in the audience showed they were in favor of the council amending the ordinance. Member Joe Glock said he believed the organization had “earned the right to govern itself.”

Shaun Kirwin, owner of the Cutting Horse Bar & Grill, also asked for an exception for his business, saying his business is a private club and he has lost a considerable amount of business since the ordinance went into effect.

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