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Rowan County Commissioners vote for smoke-free parks

SALISBURY — After a long push from local health organizations, the Rowan County Commissioners voted Monday to make parks tobacco-free.

The new regulation bans traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping devices and other uses of tobacco in all county parks, recreation buildings and recreation grounds.

Previously, smoking was prohibited only in designated areas or “any part of any park when it is deemed the fire hazard makes such action advisable.”

Alyssa Smith, executive director of Healthy Rowan, said the regulation change was a “true collaborative effort through Healthy Rowan’s partners … to put health first for our community.”

She said the Rowan County Health Department and Novant Health Rowan Medical Center were particularly valuable partners in the effort.

Smith said the regulation is intended to promote a healthy environment, free from unwanted smoke and vapor.

Smoking, she said, is a health, safety and environmental hazard that needs to be banned to protect employees and visitors from the harmful effects of smoke.

“We sincerely appreciate the Rowan County Parks and Recreation Board and the County Commissioners for promoting our parks as a healthy place for everyone to enjoy,” she said. “This policy will empower those who do not want to breathe in second-hand smoke. It will also protect children who are there to enjoy the great parks Rowan County has to offer from those long-term negative impacts.”

Under the new regulation, signage will be installed at entrances to parks and other locations. Anyone found in violation may be asked to leave park premises.

In other business from Monday’s agenda:

• The commissioners heard a presentation by Holly Wallace, a 4-H student chosen to participate in the Youth Voice Summit this August.

• The commissioners approved a conditional-use permit requested by Steve and Vicki Southerland.

The Southerlands plan to construct a 1,200-square-foot residential storage facility on Lot 6 of Bay Ridge Estates.

The facility will hold personal items and equipment while their house is built on the same property.

• The board voted to cancel its July 16 meeting.

• The commissioners appointed 11 people to seven local boards.

The appointments include:

• Mike Beaver and Milford Lewis Goldsmith to the Centralina Workforce Development Board.

• Cheryl Peevy to the Dangerous Dog Appeals Board.

• Alfred C. Wilson to the Historic Landmarks Commission.

• Christina Sides Joyce to the Home and Community Care Block Grant Advisory Committee.

• Andrew Hayden Poston to the Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Finance Authority.

• Jason Scott Hinson, Macon Stewart, Don Bringle and Alisa Russell to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

• Lyn Marsh to the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College board of trustees.

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