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Thorns & Roses: Political finesse, smoking ban, cheering for Duke

A look by the Hendersonville Lightning at the good and bad:



Rose — To County Manager Steve Wyatt and County Attorney Russ Burrell for finessing the politically delicate issue of agenda huddles and preventing a doubling of County Commission meetings from two to four a month. Commissioner Grady Hawkins caused the kerfuffle when he decided to crash agenda meetings that involved the chairman and vice SteveWyattHeadShotSteve Wyattchairman and county staffers. The presence of three commissioners created a quorum and thus an open meeting under the law. But a single public agenda meeting involving 13 high ranking county officials was plenty for everyone. Burrell rewrote and condensed the board's rulebook for getting items on the board agenda, making it easier for Hawkins or anyone else to add topics or move them from consent to discussion. That gave the board cover to drop agenda meetings altogether. "I think (the revised rules) will expedite the conduct of business and let us get on with the task at hand," Hawkins said.


Thorn — To the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, which in the same meeting fouled off a fat pitch. Library director Bill Snyder had requested that the county commissioners give the library the power to regulate smoking outside the library doors. The state Legislature granted counties broader authority to ban smoking several years ago, County Attorney Russ Burrell told the commissioners. Dr. Bob Kiskaddon, the chief medical officer of Pardee Hospital, endorsed the ban. He told commissioners that second-hand smoke contains 7,000 chemicals; as many as 250 of them are toxic. Chairman Charlie Messer said smoking is a problem in Jackson Park. Michael Edney did not want to ban smoking on all county property because "we have a lot of employees who smoke." Larry Young said that commissioners blew the chance to ban smoking when it opened the Human Services Building in 2006. "I thought at the time we should have made it smoke-free (outside) because of the mess it creates," he said. Looks like they're blowing it again. Banning smoking would be easy, widely appreciated and better for the health of the public and county employees. We agree with the board that Jackson Park is a tougher call. Because it is outdoors, the county might be able to designate smoking areas away from bleachers and ballfields. Banning smoking in a wide perimeter around buildings ought to be an easy call.

Rose — To the linemen and electricians and plumbers and furnace techs and first responders who got the power back on, fixed broken pipes, repaired heaters and helped people stay warm and safe during the record cold during the Jan 7 deep freeze. Seems like a long time ago now and human nature helps us forget our misery when misery's cause goes away. Last Tuesday Duke Energy crews restored power to 7,638 customers in Henderson County, which was the hardest hit county in the utility's Carolinas service area during the polar freeze. Luckily, most of the outages were related to two substations; once crews got the substations back up, the lights — and furnaces — came back on. It was a day when everyone rooted for Duke. Anyone who went out in last week's cold for even a few minutes has to appreciate the workers who spent hours helping folks who desperately needed heat or pipes repaired.