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Citizens step up to plate again to determine fate

It appears we've come full circle and in the end there might be no real winners.

West Fargo City Commissioners voted Monday night 4-1 to send the long debated smoking ban issue back to the citizens for another vote - this time for a complete 100 percent ban in public places - but not without considerable discussion, venting, and heated exchanges by parties involved both pro and con.

Residents voted on the matter in 2004, exempting only some of the City's bars, with that action amended late last year to be less restrictive, mimicking the North Dakota ban in place.

Monday night's discussion was pretty much a repeat of countless others on the issue, with strong and convincing arguments for both sides. What it seemed to boil down to was either no tolerance for smoking in public places at all, because of the health risks from secondhand smoke; or the ability to be able to 'voice a choice,' i.e. freedom of choice, for what managers and owners feel is best for their respective businesses.

It appears that the issue will be on the ballot for a vote, possibly as early as November of this year in a special election, or for sure the City election in June of 2008.

In the aftermath of the 2004 election, there were those who said they didn't totally understand the vote on the proposed smoking ban and perhaps wouldn't have voted the way they did if the terminology had been clearer. Be that the actual case or not, it will be crucial that the wording that is laid out when the next election takes place is clear and concise, with no room for doubt, so there is no room for comeback.

No matter how this whole saga shakes down, someone is going to feel like the loser - for the business sector - the potential loss of clients, revenues, and ultimately the livelihood to prosper; and for health advocates - the right to a smoke free environment that is not adversely affecting their quality of life.

Both sides Monday night seemed to be 'okay' with putting the issue on the ballot, and hopefully they will be willing to accept and live with the final vote tally.

With this method for settling the matter, the possibility can always arise in the future for another initiated challenge, but the best case scenario by that time may be that the State Legislature will have taken a total ban stance statewide and this will no longer be a hot topic local jurisdictions will have to deal with.

There is no doubt that this is an extremely important issue, but it also one that has dragged out way too far and one a lot of people would like to see 'go away.'

For the businesses who allow smoking in their establishments, it has been like a ticking time bomb hanging over their heads. That is not a good way to conduct daily operations, wasting thought and energy that could be better focused elsewhere.

No matter what the impact, it's time for a resolution so everyone can get on with their lives without this cloud of uncertainty lingering in the background.

Road work of short duration

Microsurfacing project underway

For those of you wondering what is going on with the sudden start of road work on 13th Avenue Monday, rest assured it will be short lived.

ASTECH, a St. Cloud company is coordinating the microsurfacing project for the City of West Fargo which is expected to be completed by the end of the week, weather permitting.

As many of you already know by now, the project area involves 13th Avenue from Sheyenne Street to 17th Street East and on 17th Avenue from 6th Street East to the Fargo City limits.

Full access to 13th Avenue from the side streets will be limited to Sheyenne Street, 6th Street East, 9th Street East and 7th Street East, with work first being completed on the inside lanes of 13th Avenue.

So as your traveling around town, make sure you take heed of 'road closed to local traffic' signs, or you'll find yourself making a quick u-turn at the end of the block when you can't get through.

Crews are making every effort to minimize disturbance of access and traffic flow, so exert a little extra caution and patience yourself to make it easier on everyone.

Anyone with any questions or concerns related to the project can contact Chris Brungardt of the West Fargo Public Works Department at 433-5400, 306-8484 (cell), or by email at