By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
The smoking committee woke Tuesday from its five-month long hibernation.
The controversy that gave the committee life for over a year was thought to be buried along with the committee. However, both announced a return Tuesday as committee members once again listened to the arguments of business owners.
The Killeen City Council voted 5-2 Feb. 10 to approve a new ordinance banning smoking from public venues. The ordinance included a ban on all public buildings, providing exceptions for stand-alone bars, pool halls, clubs, bingo halls and bowling alleys, the last of which was added to the ordinance at the last minute by the City Council.
Now, the committee is considering amending the ordinance to remove an exemption for bowling alleys which were allowed to have smoking sections during adult league play, but were prohibited from it while children's league play took place.
Dick Atkinson, who owns an area bowling alley, was quite vocal in his request to keep his exemption Tuesday, much as he was back in January and February.
But the committee may not uphold his request this time around.
Councilman and committee member Juan Rivera said he believes it's time to revisit some of the issues that he believes led the principles of the ordinance astray. The committee will also be considering adding the race track to the list of sites that would be exempted.
Patrick Wilson of Texas Thunder Speedway said his business deserves an exemption because it is outside, the only such privately-owned outdoor arena in the area.
The current ordinance does provide for open-air outdoor smoking sections at restaurants equipped with patios.
Wilson questions why those be exempt when his facility is not, which is 100 percent open-air.
The committee will resume discussions in its next meeting, which will take place in about a month.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568.