Buckhannon City Hall
Buckhannon City Hall

Council revamps employee handbook to include new tobacco-free areas for workers

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Council in June will consider an amendment to its recently revised employee handbook that would put the kibosh on the employee use of all tobacco products – including smokeless tobacco – at four city facilities.

At council’s May 21 meeting, which was live-streamed on YouTube via Channel 3, council directed city attorney Tom O’Neill to revise the City of Buckhannon Employee Handbook, which is currently undergoing a facelift, to ban not only smoking and vaping for employees but also smokeless (or chewing) tobacco from four city facilities.

Those facilities would include City Hall, the Public Safety Complex, the Stockert Youth & Community Center and the Charles W. Gibson Library.

O’Neill said a city supervisor had requested the change after reviewing a draft of the new employee handbook, which council will vote on at its first meeting in June.

“We already had a smoke-free policy on city properties, but there was a suggestion to change that into a tobacco-free policy,” O’Neill told council. “Some of the feedback was, that doing so would be difficult in some departments but in others, like at the Public Safety Complex, it might be more feasible to make it a tobacco-free facility as opposed to just a smoke-free facility.”

“I indicated that I would take that to council for your consideration of that,” O’Neill added.

Mayor David McCauley said the city’s practice “has long been to disallow smoking or vaping around any of our facilities” so the suggested revision would add on smokeless/chewing tobacco.

“So, the question is, would this be facility-based or more employee-based?” the mayor asked. “Because if it’s a health initiative, which I suppose the city could adopt, it would employee-based, or [would it apply [to a particular] facility?”

O’Neill said the suggestion was originally proposed as citywide, meaning it would apply to every employee at every facility.

“However, the feedback was that that might be a bridge too far at this point and making it a facility-based proposal for the Public Safety Complex is more doable,” he replied.

McCauley suggested the tobacco-free policy apply to all facilities members of the public regularly frequent, including the PSC, City Hall, SYCC and the Gibson Library.

“I don’t know if I would go so far as to invoke this relative to water, sewer and waste collection operations,” the mayor said.

“No, I think that was kind of seen as where we don’t want to go with expanding this policy,” O’Neill agreed.

Councilman David Thomas said he thought the policy ought to apply to all city parks, too, but O’Neill said trying to institute such a prohibition “would open up a whole other can of worms.”

“I know, but it’s not very encouraging to go to a city park and have to smell smoke and step in tobacco,” Thomas said.

McCauley said council was considering a tobacco-free policy simply in the context of overhauling the employee handbook and nothing broader.

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh made a motion directing O’Neill to edit the employee handbook so it would disallow smoking, vaping and smokeless tobacco use at the PSC, City Hall, SYCC and Gibson Memorial Library.

Thomas seconded the motion, which passed unanimously. McCauley noted council will not vote on the official adoption of the handbook in its entirety until its June 4 meeting.

Before adjourning, council also:

  • Accepted the resignation of Buckhannon Police Department Cpl. Joshua Wilson.
  • Instructed the Police Civil Service Commission to certify the next list of eligible candidates and consider possibly new testing for the position for probationary police officer at their next meeting June 10.
  • Approved authorizing McCauley to execute USI W.Va. Public Employees Insurance Agency consulting agreement with Pete Thackston, with the understanding that Thackston is to receive a $20,000 commission.
  • Approved a budget revision that included an expenditure of $13,289 for a new fire alarm panel at SYCC.

News Feed

Subscribe to remove popups, or just enjoy this free story and support our local businesses!