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City Council Hires Overcast as Police Officer –– Looks at Ordinance to Prohibit Over-The-Counter Sales of Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine

By Sue Curry Jones

Ava City Council was called to order Tuesday evening by presiding officer and east ward alderman Ric Engelhardt.  Mayor Eddie Maggard was unable to attend the session due to a recent dental procedure, and Alderman Burrely Loftin was in Jefferson City attending HazMat training.  In addition to Engelhardt, alder­men Bill Long and David Norman were pre­sent.

During closed, councilmen hired David Overcast to serve as a police officer for the City of Ava Police Department.  Overcast comes to Ava from the Branson Airport where he worked in security.

In executive session, council also accepted the resignation of Ron Weldon, who has been manager of the airport facility for several years.  However, at the request of council, David Davidson, of Ava, has agreed to oversee the facility and manage the Bill Martin Memorial Airport.

Rick Graham, city employee and animal control officer, reported on his recent findings and research for constructing a new and improved pound facility for stray animals. Graham said bid costs were around $15,000, a figure that represents concrete, materials and supplies. City employees will be responsible for providing the labor and imple­menting the project.

Graham said the building will be similar to a pole barn, with an open area inside.  It will have a small area for office space and food storage, but most of the interior area will be open for pen placement.  The size of the proposed structure is 24×30, and includes windows, heating and air conditioning, a low ceiling, and overhead garage door for safety and guarded delivery of animals.

Administrative Director Peggy Porter noted there is approximately $15,000 in the budget, and with the prospect of a community donation, the new facility should be doable.

Graham noted the actual building site has not yet been determined, but prospective locations are still being investigated.

Police Chief Reggie Johnson updated council with information on purchasing patrol cars.  Johnson said at present the department has five cars in use, with models ranging from 1998 – 2009.

After researching venues, Johnson stated his recommendation is to put together a plan to replace one car a year, and to buy new cars.  This year, he noted, new police cars cost around $26,000, on state contract, and that expense includes the police insignia wrap, wiring and special features. New purchases also have a 3-year warranty.

Johnson advised that buying used patrol cars from programs like the Missouri State Highway Patrol may not be the best deal for the city, as the cars generally have 55,000 miles of heavy use, no warranty, and depending on the model, a price tag of $15,000 to $16,000.

Administrative Director Peggy Porter noted the budget has $22,000 earmarked for the purchase of a car.  However, no decisions were made.

At the request of alderman David Norman, councilmen briefly re­viewed the prospect of implement­ing an ordinance prohibiting the sale of methamphetamine precursor drugs without a doctor’s prescrip­tion.  This type of city ordinance would eliminate and pro­hibit the sale of drugs like ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as over-the-counter purchases.   Under the ordinance, a prescription would be required to attain the medication.

During the last council meeting, Norman had requested more info about implementing a city ordinance restricting the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, and for Tuesday’s session, copies of ordinances from Joplin, Hollister and Branson were provided.

In the discussion, councilman Ric Engelhardt asked for the issue to be placed before the public, for their consideration. Engelhardt welcomed opinions and input, and also noted this restriction will cost residents, as they will have the additional cost of a doctor’s visit, and a prescription drug co-pay fee.

Councilman Bill Long concurred.  He agreed the issue should be open to public comment.  He also said he had been discussing the possibility of the ordinance with constituents, and 99% were against the idea, as it created added costs and going to the doctor.

Using Hollister’s ordinance as an example, here are excerpts from the policy, which reads:

SECTION 215.475: Prohibition of Sale of Methamphetamine Precursor Drugs

A. General. The City Council of the City has found the manufacture, transportation, possession and sale of methamphetamine to be inher­ently dangerous and that the chemi­cal precursors of methamphetamine and the by products and wastes of methamphetamine production are inherently dangerous and injurious to the public health, safety and wel­fare of the citizens of the City.  Reg­ulation of the sale of the chemi­cal precursors to methamphetamine production, such as ephedrine prod­ucts and pseudoephedrine products is necessary to protect the citizens of the City.

B.  Definitions. For the purposes of this Article, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this Section.

Ephedrine: All forms of ephed­rine, ephedrine hydrochloride and all combinations of these chemicals and any methamphetamine precur­sor drug containing these chemicals.

 Person:  Any individual, corpo­ration, partnership, trust, limited liability company, firm, association or other entity.

Pseudoephedrine: All forms of pseudoephedrine, pseudoephedrine hydrochloride and all combinations of these chemicals and any metham­phetamine precursor drug contain­ing these chemicals.

Sell: To knowingly furnish, give away, exchange transfer, deliver, surrender, or supply, whether for monetary gain or not.

SECTION 214.476: Exceptions

A. It shall be illegal for any per­son to sell, deliver or distribute ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or any other methamphetamine precursor drugs except as set forth in the spe­cific exceptions contained in this article.

B.  Ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or other methamphetamine precur­sor drugs may be sold by a Missouri licensed pharmacist after being authorized to do so by a written pre­scription from a physician or other health care professional licensed by the State of Missouri to write pre­scriptions. 

C. Ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or other methamphetamine precursor drugs may be distributed by a licensed physician within the physi­cian’s office, clinic, nursing home or other licensed health care facility.

D. This section regulating ephed­rine, pseudoephedrine or other methamphetamine precursor drugs shall not apply to the sale of animal feed containing ephedrine or dietary supplement products containing naturally occurring or herbal ephedra or extracts of herbal ephedra. . . .

Prior to taking action on the drug ordinance issue, Councilmen Long and Engelhardt advised setting a time for public comments, however, a specific time was not established during the meeting.

In other business, Administrative Director Peggy Porter received council’s approval to create and set-up an approved vendor list.  Porter said she will send letters to all of the city’s business partners, and upon their response, create the list.  She noted the suggestion to create this policy was a recommendation from the auditors.

The next city council session is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 12, 5:00 p.m. at Ava City Hall.