Friday, May 25, 2018
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Fulton County: Smoking-ban plan on Wauseon ballot

Wauseon's proposed smoking ban, which would prohibit smoking in about four restaurants and several shops that allow it now, has led to debate over the rights of business owners and what's best for public health.

The Fulton County ballot also includes the only contested races in the county - prosecutor and sheriff - an operating levy for the senior center, township fire and road repair levies, and five alcohol sales questions.

The Tobacco Free Fulton County Coalition, which has written a slightly less restrictive initiative than the one that failed by 12 votes last November, says it wants to protect public health by guaranteeing that no one will have to breathe secondhand smoke while working.

The need for some people to breathe smoke-free air should have priority over others' desire to smoke in places open to the public, according to the coalition.

An opposition group, led by Harold Stickley who allows employees to smoke in his E & H Auto Clinic, says the coalition is trying to impose its will on a few privately owned businesses.

John Weber, owner of John Weber's Good Food on Shoop Avenue, said his restaurant is one of about four in the city that allows smoking. He sees the proposed ban as an attempt to erode individual freedoms.

He said people concerned about secondhand smoke should simply not frequent restaurants where smoking is permitted. Restaurants' decisions should be based on market forces rather than a ballot issue, he said.

Carl Lewis, secretary of Tobacco Free, countered that people who do not want to be near smoke should not have to restrict where they eat.

"We still want our choice to go wherever we want to go," said Mr. Lewis, who, like many of the coalition members, is a former smoker. The coalition's 12 to 15 core members had considered putting an exception in their initiative for restaurants with separately ventilated smoking and nonsmoking sections. But they decided against it in part, Mr. Lewis said, because diners can take children into the smoking section.

They aren't trying to ban smoking in Wauseon's two bars in the initiative because they cater only to adults and a higher percentage of their customers smoke, Mr. Lewis said. The initiative also would allow smoking in private clubs, except when they open their doors to the public for special events.

If Tuesday's initiative fails, Mr. Lewis said the coalition will not return it to the ballot.

The smoking initiative is joined by the only contested races on the ballot for county positions - sheriff and prosecutor.

Cheryl Chapa, 48, an Archbold police officer for 17 years, is a Republican running as an independent against Sheriff Darrell Merillat, 52, a Republican finishing his 20th year as sheriff.

Ms. Chapa served on the Liberty Center Local Board of Education for five years. She lost to Mr. Merillat of Dover Township in the 2000 GOP primary.

Fulton County pays its sheriff almost $54,000 a year.

In the race for Fulton County prosecutor, Gary Poorman, 51, a Dover Township lawyer who was once a full-time assistant prosecutor, is a Republican running as an independent against Roger Nagel, 57, a Republican former assistant prosecutor who became the prosecutor in April.

Mr. Nagel, who is also a partner in the law firm of Hallett, Hallett & Nagel, has held no other elected offices.

He worked with Mr. Poorman from 1986 to 1992 when Mr. Poorman was a full-time assistant prosecutor and Mr. Nagel was a part-time assistant.

Mr. Poorman is a general practice lawyer who also farms 80 acres. He served a year on Metamora Village Council.

The county prosecutor is paid more than $94,000 annually.

The Fulton County Senior Center is asking for a new 1.1-mill, five-year operating levy with the promise that if it passes, the center will stop collecting on a 0.9-mill levy that expires in 2005. The money goes toward services provided free to its seniors.

The 1.1-mill levy would raise more than $963,000 per year, up from almost $715,000 that the 0.9-mill levy collects. The difference would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $7 a year more, with an annual bill of $38.50 instead of $31.50.

Other issues in the county:

• In Amboy Township, leaders are asking for a replacement of a 1-mill, five-year fire levy to provide and maintain fire apparatus, equipment, building, and sites. It would produce $38,250 a year at a cost of almost $31 a year to the owner of a $100,000 house.

• In Dover Township, just north of Wauseon, trustees want a renewal of a 1-mill, five-year fire and emergency levy to provide funds for fire, rescue, and ambulance protection services. It would produce almost $17,600 a year at a cost of more than $16 a year to the owner of a $100,000 house.

• In German Township, which surrounds Archbold, voters face a request for a 1-mill, five-year levy for road improvements. The levy would produce $136,600 a year at a cost of $11.50 a year to the owner of a $100,000 house.

There are five alcohol issues on the ballot:

• Lyons voters will decide whether to allow beer and wine sales at the Village Mart on Adrian Street on Sundays between 1 p.m. and midnight.

• York Township's north precinct voters will decide whether to allow Country Corral on State Rt. 109 to sell beer, wine, mixed beverages, and spirituous liquor from 10 a.m. to midnight on Sundays and whether the adjacent Winchesters Restaurant & Saloon can sell spirituous liquor by individual drink in the restaurant and spirituous liquor from 1 p.m. to midnight on Sundays.

• Wauseon's 5th Precinct will decide if a Sterling Store on Airport Highway can sell wine and mixed beverages from 1 p.m. to midnight on Sundays.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

or 419-337-7780.

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