By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

More than five months after it last met, Killeen's smoking committee is back in business.

The committee is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. today in the large conference room at the Utility Collections building. The Killeen City Council will meet at 5 p.m.

The council voted 5-2 on Feb. 10 to approve a new ordinance banning smoking from public venues. The ordinance includes a ban in all public buildings, providing exceptions for stand-alone bars, pool halls, clubs, bingo halls and even bowling alleys, the last of which was added to the ordinance by the City Council on the day it approved the ordinance.

The committee plans to discuss some alterations to the current ordinance.

Some of those alterations include an expected discussion of adding the racetrack to the list of sites that carry an exemption.

Patrick Wilson of Texas Thunder Speedway said at a public hearing in January that he believes a business like his deserves an exemption because it is outside, the only such privately owned outdoor arena in the area.

Nonsmoking and smoking areas seem to work during the six months each year that the track is running. He's been in charge for 13 years, hosting an average of 1,500 people who attend each night, he said.

"And not once have we received a complaint that we should be nonsmoking," Wilson said.

In addition, the committee will revisit bowling alleys.

Dick Atkinson, who owns an area bowling alley, was vocal in his request for an exemption back in January and February.

Councilman Juan Rivera, who is on the committee, was so unhappy with the late additions to the ordinance that he voted against it on Feb. 10. Now that the ordinance has had some time to settle in, he believes it's time to revisit some of the issues that he believes led the principles of the ordinance astray.

Additionally, City Attorney Kathy Davis said at a prior council meeting that some small changes would be recommended by her office after the ban took effect June 1.

Contact Justin Cox at or (254) 501-7568.

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