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No 'butts' about it: Kandiyohi County, Minn., Board thanked for tobacco-free beaches

Laura Daak from the Kandiyohi County Drug Free Communities Coalition presented a stack of thank you cards to the Kandiyohi County Commissioners for making county park beaches tobacco-free. People wrote the cards during the Kandiyohi County Fair earlier this month. Tribune photo Carolyn Lange

WILLMAR — A tall stack of thank you cards was delivered to the Kandiyohi County Commissioners Tuesday.

Hand-written by residents who stopped by at the Drug-Free Communities Coalition booth earlier this month at the Kandiyohi County Fair, the cards expressed gratitude for action the County Board of Commissioners took to make county park beaches tobacco-free.

"It's nice to walk on the beach without stepping on a bunch of cig butts," read a card addressed to Commissioner Dean Shuck from a woman named Rose.

"Thank you for taking a stand," said Laura Daak, a health educator in the county's Public Health Department and coordinator for the coalition's grant-funded program as she gave each of the sitting commissioners the postcards, which also included pictures of kids sitting on a beach.

Daak also gave cards to former commissioners Dennis Peterson and Richard Larson who were on the board when the county's tobacco ordinance was revised last November. Peterson and Larson were both present at Tuesday's meeting.

Daak said when the coalition first proposed revising the ordinance, the request was backed up with a survey that showed 80 percent of county residents would support tobacco-free beaches.

The commissioners "didn't hesitate at all" to set the change in motion, said Daak.

With the summer swimming season about to wind down, Daak said the new ordinance has had a positive review.

"We've had a really good response," said Daak, with the public enjoying beaches that are free from cigarette butts. She said county park managers and lifeguards have not reported any problems enforcing the new ordinance.

"There's been no trouble whatsoever," said Daak. "There doesn't seem to be any resistance at the beaches. Everybody is abiding by it and even thanking the lifeguards for the policy."

People who stopped by the coalition's booth at the fair were informed about the new ordinance and were invited to write the commissioners a card.

"A lot of residents that came up to us thanked us that the beaches are now tobacco-free," said Daak.

The coalition wanted to make sure the commissioners knew their actions were appreciated.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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