Holts Summit smoking ban draft arrives to residents via Facebook
HOLTS SUMMIT - The City Administrator of Holts Summit, Rick Hess, has an unusual approach. Instead of waiting for city meetings, he actively uses Facebook to tell residents about new ordinances, get feedback and assist in fixing problems in the city.
Hess said he usually gets feedback within a couple of minutes after he posts, "which is good because then we can get it fixed quicker."
Hess put together a smoking draft ordinance and posted it to the Facebook group Monday morning.
"I put it on Facebook to gauge public interest," he said
Ultimately, the smoking ban leaves it up to the business owners if they want their establishment to allow smoking or not. It also talks about smoking close to buildings and on city property.
Hess said the reaction to the post was, "a little more positive" than he initially thought.
"To my surprise, and a nice surprise it was, a lot of the people said, 'that's very reasonable, it respects both sides, it gives the anti-smoking crowd some additional protections but its not so onerous that it demands business' do it our way','" Hess said.
The draft got more than 100 comments, which Hess said were civil.
Hess has two computer screens in his office, one for city work and one for Facebook.
Hess acts quickly after hearing from people.
"I've done a couple of tweaks on it since I put it out on Facebook and got some feedback," he said.
Hess said he has been an administrator for more than 10 years and has experience updating ordinances.
"If I do them when I get them, if I think that it's a worthwhile change, then I'll change." Hess said "I'm not so hard and fast stuck on me that I don't recognize a good idea when I see it, and I don't mind stealing it."
Cameron's Country Cafe, down the street from Holts Summit City Hall, allows smoking inside its restaurant.
"With the new ordinance it allows for business' to still have the choice to allow for smoking, which is great for us," said Tyler Patterson, an employee at Cameron's Country Cafe. "The freedom of choice is still great, it allows us to appeal to more customers, or appeal to the customers who still want to smoke at a restaurant."
In the new ordinance, smoking establishments may continue to be smoking establishments. However, businesses within 50 feet of the smoking establishments are not granted the rule that people can't smoke within 50 feet of the other business'.
Although Hess uses Facebook to show the public new ordinances, there's one thing he does not do, "I don't do Twitter."