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Ponte, ‘Smoke-Free’ Regs Top Angels Council Agenda

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Angels Camp, CA – Angels Camp City Council will shortly welcome a former local lawmaker to a newly created downtown business marketing executive position and revisit its proposed “Smoke-Free Ordinance.”

Tuesday night beginning at 6 at the Bret Harte High School Theater the council looks to address what appears to be a fairly short meeting agenda.

Following general public comments, Destination Angels Camp (DAC) Chairman Larry Cornish will introduce former Calaveras County Supervisor Debbie Ponte – once an Angels Camp mayor — as the DAC executive director. Ponte, who did not seek reelection to her District Four seat, just recently wound up her duties with the county.

“We basically eliminated our CEO/President position and have now put in place a paid position called the Executive Director,” Cornish explains. Former President Anne Forrest, who will remain on the DAC Executive Council, decided it was high time to retire, according to Cornish, himself a relatively recent retiree from Mark Twain Medical Center, as reported here. “Anne had been with us since Day One with Destination Angels Camp Development Corporation and decided it was time to pass the baton, so to speak.”

With what Cornish calls a number of suitable candidates within the area, DAC did not conduct an outside executive search. Thursday the full DAC board formally and unanimously approved Ponte’s selection to what will be a parttime position for which Cornish said the compensation package remains private.

Ponte’s role will be somewhat like Forrest’s was, he says; albeit that she will do her own administrative work and be kind of a one-woman show. “That involves reaching out to the community, looking for grants and any ways we can bring money into Angels Camp, to do those things we need to bring businesses in…and improve the tax base,” he states.

DAC is currently reviewing just-in data from Buxton, its marketing consultant, which (as reported here) continues to do deep-dive data mining that is being used to hone target marketing and business development demographics and strategies. The organization is also in the middle of developing its strategic plan for the next five years, slated for review and approval by its board in April ahead of presenting it to the city council in May.

Another Public Airing For ‘Smoke Free’ Downtown Regs

Also Tuesday the council will hold a public hearing on the city’s proposed Smoke-Free Ordinance. Due to continued controversy, the matter was continued at the last public hearing in mid-October, when the council unanimously voted to continue it into the new year in order for staff to do more research as well as to provide more public response opportunity.

City staff, in the meeting documents, addresses key areas of concern. Among these are the need to allow, per the state code, 20 percent of guest room accommodations in lodging establishments to be exempt from the workplace ban on smoking in enclosed places.

Staff also points out that local jurisdictions may pass stricter secondhand smoke laws than what state laws impose, in places like parks, outdoor dining areas, bus stops and areas within 20 feet of commercial building entryways, which may be enforced with various penalties by various local agencies. As the proposed rules currently read, the city would impose a ban on smoking within 30 feet of a nonsmoking area. Staff notes that other California cities enforce stricter regulations on public smoking.

As for fiscal impacts, according to city staff, the Calaveras County Department of Health and Human Services Public Health office has committed to providing the city with signage as well as a community education program. This is expected to remove virtually all related expenses with implementing the ordinance. Ostensibly, as the new rules would significantly reduce cigarette litter within the city, if finally adopted, the ordinance would further result in long-term savings to the city’s maintenance budget.

Another slated public hearing — involving an appeal of a planning commission denial of a medical marijuana dispensary at 206 N. Main St. — is scheduled now for the council’s Feb. 7 meeting. As part of a third item on the council’s regular agenda, new Mayor Scott Behiel will make board and commission appointments for the year ahead.