On December 30, 2006, it was announced that there would be changes to the smoking policy of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville. This decision was reached by diocesan officials weeks after a fire broke out in the hall, which started because of cigarettes that were left over from Bingo night. The fire severely damaged the Good Shepherd School, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of students.
According to the new rule, nobody will be permitted to smoke inside the Catholic Diocese of Evansville anymore. Nonetheless, this development comes just days before a local non-smoking ordinance that will be enforced throughout Vanderburgh County. As Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger says, smoking at any diocese-owned facility or establishment that is open to the general public will be strictly forbidden from now on. Bishop Gettelfinger's message is loud and clear, applying strictly to all the parishes, institutions, and establishments within the vicinity of the 12 counties of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville. Gettelfinger said that the smoking ban in all of the institutions controlled and owned by the diocese will begin on January 2, 2006, like the smoking ban that will be implemented all over Vanderburgh County.
He further added that even without the new non-smoking rule during the bingo games, the Catholic Diocese has every intention of complying with the county's smoking ban. Gettelfinger is not worried that the smoking ban will have an adverse effect on their fund-raising activities. He claims that their players may switch past times because of the smoking ban, but he also firmly believes that people come because they want to play and bingo is the best choice for getting a good payout. Steve Bagbey, an Evansville council member and supporter of the citywide smoking ban, said that he was astounded by the quickness of the enforcement of the new non smoking law, but he also thinks that it will be best for both the parish and the schools.
Bagbey further stated that he applauds Bishop Gettelfinger for his decisiveness because it is not any easy decision by any means. The decision was a personal one for Gettelfinger who is a former smoker. In the Bishop's case, he really does need to stop smoking. He also admits that this decision might not be that easy for the Diocese because they must comply to ensure the safety and health of all the people in the area. He said that this policy will begin on January 2nd, but the non-smoking policy must first be practiced at the local level. The fine for the violators will vary from institution to institution. There will be a 20% surcharge on that particular facility's property and the liability insurance assessment for the next fiscal year.
Thursday, January 04, 2007