A proposed city ordinance that could have changed the legal age to purchase tobacco products in Grand Island from 19 to 21 was postponed Tuesday because of a lack of quorum at a Grand Island City Council meeting.

Three council members were absent. Eight members were needed to successfully amend city code.

President Donald Trump recently changed the federal age to legally possess and purchase tobacco and tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The ordinance the City Council would have considered would amend Chapter 20 of City Code to increase the age of legally possessing tobacco products, vapor products or alternative nicotine products in the city of Grand Island to 21. The ordinance would have made the city compliant with federal law.

The Food and Drug Administration has said it is now illegal for a retailer to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, or for anyone under age 21 to be in possession of them.

But in a memorandum sent to Nebraska law enforcement, county attorneys and state agencies, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson urged them to follow Nebraska law, which sets the minimum age at 19. Last year, the Legislature approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Dan Quick of Grand Island to raise the state’s minimum purchase age from 18 to 19. That bill went into effect Jan. 1.

Along with amending the city code to increase the legal age to buy nicotine products, there were three other ordinances that were postponed because of the lack of a quorum.

One would consider the creation of Sanitary Sewer District No. 544; Ellington Pointe and Westood Park Subdivision. Another would consider amending the salary ordinance relative to meter readers. The fourth would consider approving benefits for Sidewalk District No. 1 at 13th Street.

According to Mayor Roger Steele, all four ordinances will be on the agenda at the council’s next meeting on Jan. 28.

On Tuesday, Steele and the council recognized Brad Foster, horticulturist with the Parks and Recreation Department, for his 35 years of service with the city.

Foster was hired as a maintenance worker on Jan. 23, 1985. He was promoted to horticulturist on March 27, 1992.

Todd McCoy, who heads the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the recognition of Foster for his service to Grand Island was “well deserved.”

“We are proud of the work he does,” McCoy said. “He loves what he does.”

Also, the city’s Wastewater Division was recognized by the council for a number of awards it recently received.

The department received the Nebraska Water Environmental Association (NWEA) Scott Wilber Large Facility Best in Class Award during the 2019 American Public Works Association (APWA), Nebraska Water Environment Association (NWEA), and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Fall Conference.

The award recognizes wastewater facilities across Nebraska that provide excellence in operations and maintenance. The association’s committee evaluates the operations of facilities in four facility classes, ranging from lagoon systems to large treatment operations.

Grand Island has received Outstanding Facility Awards every year since 2015 and the Large Facility Best in Class Award for 2019, with the Best in Class award also being received in 2016. Large facilities are those handling more than 5 million gallons of wastewater per day.

The NWEA Safety Award recognizes excellence in accident prevention and promotion of safety in workplace facilities. Recently special meters were put in use for workers at the Grand Island plant that monitors gas levels, falls and other potential problems to ensure 24/7 protection of its workers.

NWEA recognizes the efforts made by the city and, for 2019, again awarded the city its Silver Safety Award. This is the fifth year in a row the city has received a safety award from the state and third year for the Silver Award. In 2015 Grand Island received the Gold Award and in 2018 it received the Bronze Award.

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