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Smoking Ordinance Struck Down

American Heart Association Jerry Saavedra speaks to city leaders about the dangers of second hand smoke during last Tuesday’s commission meeting. Photos: Martha E. Ibarra/LFN

5th Street to be Renamed in Honor of Javier Vega Jr.

by Martha E. Ibarra/LFN

On Tuesday, September 12, the La Feria city commission held a regularly scheduled city meeting led by Mayor Pro-Tem, Eric Hoff. It was in a full city commission meeting room that many La Feria residents gathered to voice their concerns regarding Ordinance 2017-12, an ordinance that implements smoking regulations in La Feria.

Ordinance 2017-12, which focuses on making all indoor work areas smoke free, was first introduced to the commission in July. Jerry Saavedra, a representative of the American Heart Association, brought to the attention of the commission the dangers of second hand smoke for employees in restaurants and bars where smoking is permitted. As mentioned in July, the ordinance does not prohibit people from smoking, it simply asks people to step outside to do so. Before any action was taken, the commission asked the community for more input.

Mayor pro-tem, Eric Hoff, motioned for a public hearing that lasted a little over an hour. Fourteen individuals came forth; eleven were in support of the ordinance being adopted while three were against it.

After hearing the concerns of these fourteen residents, Commissioner Esmeralda Lozano motioned to table any action on Ordinance 2017-12 until more information and input could be provided.

“Even though today’s presence is mainly for the ordinance, it warrants our due diligence to make sure that we look for a second public hearing,” said Lozano.

Commissioner Julian Guevara Jr. seconded Lozano’s motion to table any action in order to have more information before making a decision. Commissioners Donato Garcia and Jesse Zuniga, however, were against tabling any action and Commissioner Zuniga made a motion to deny Ordinance 2017-12. With 2 commissioners for the ordinance and 2 against, Mayor pro-tem, Eric Hoff, voted in favor of not passing Ordinance 2017-12.

Following the usual protocol of a city meeting, (invocation, pledge and determination of quorum) the commission approved the minutes of the last city meeting that took place on August 29.

The city meeting room was filled to capacity as residents weighed in on the smoking ordinance during a public hearing at last week’s commission meeting.

Commissioner Donato Garcia then presented a proposal to the commission to rename 5th Street; it will now be known as Javier Vega Jr. Street.

Vega, who grew up in La Feria, was a Border Patrol agent killed in 2014. While fishing with his family on the afternoon of August 3rd 2014, Vega was killed after 2 individuals attacked him and his family.

“During the altercation, Javier Jr. paid the ultimate price. Vega grew up and attended school in La Feria. His biggest dream was to join the United States Border Patrol. With this in mind, I ask the commissioners to rename 5th Street to Javier Vega Jr. Street”, said Commissioner Donato Garcia.

The motion was unanimously supported and passed.

The next city meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 26, in the city commission meeting room located at 115 E. Commercial Avenue.

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