Daily Mountain Eagle
A local tavern owner and political activist on Monday urged Jasper officials to reconsider the stringency of the city's new smoking ordinance during a Council work session held at Jasper City Hall.
Carla Stricklan, the proprietor of Legg's Hideaway, a lounge located on 17 Street West in downtown Jasper, said the law passed in October that prohibits smoking in indoor public places located within the city limits is putting her out of business.
"This is all I've got," Stricklan said about the business she has owned and operated for 16 years. "Before this happened, I was ordering anywhere from $800-1,000 a week just in Budweiser." Stricklan said she required less than $400 in Budweiser to replenish her stock last week.
"I can't survive like that," Stricklan said. "I'm begging you guys to help me."
Stricklan pointed out that no one under the age of 21 is allowed into her establishment. "There are no children that come in there. We're all grown adults," she said.
Stricklan estimated that 95 percent of her customers are smokers.
Mayor Sonny Posey said city officials "are trying to equalize the playing field." He added that he was not currently at liberty to elaborate on what city action was being taken. However, he added that some of Stricklan's competitors have "ignored" the smoking ordinance, allowing their patrons to continue to light up. On Friday, he said Jasper police "took care of that matter."
According to Rowe, a citation will be given on Friday to Midnight Special, a nightclub on Birmingham Highway where patrons were smoking despite the new law.
Council President Sandi Sudduth told Stricklan, "We don't want anyone to lose their business." However she added "Amending or changing the ordinance is not going to happen right now."
Also speaking out on the smoking ordinance Monday was Bill Cleghorn, who is currently collecting signatures to a petition that he hopes will put the smoking issue to a city-wide vote.
Cleghorn objects to the wording of the ordinance as it pertains to private clubs and non-profit associations. Cleghorn also is against provisions of the ordinance related to motels. "I don't see where Jasper needs to be in the motel business," he said.
Cleghorn added he is concerned the smoking ordinance could cost the city "a lot of jobs" because of decreased tourism.
"You need to have this city set up as a tourist attraction instead of running people out. If word gets out you can't smoke in Jasper, they're not going to stop," he said.
Sudduth asked Cleghorn to give the city's attorney Russ Robertson time to analyze Cleghorn's recommended amendments to the city's smoking ordinance that was passed by a 3-2 vote on Oct. 4.
The Jasper City Council will hold its next work session at 4:30 p.m. next Tuesday at Jasper City Hall.