By NEMS Daily Journal
2006: Anti-smokers clear the way
Northeast Mississippi citizens got a breath of fresh air in 2006 as several cities and towns in the region banned smoking in public businesses.
Grassroots efforts driven by health concerns led public officials to enact new ordinances restricting smoking first in Starkville and then Tupelo, Oxford and Mantachie.
Much of the organized opposition in each city came from restaurant and bar owners who feared they would lose business if smokers had to go outside.
A group of Tupelo businessmen challenged the city’s ban in federal court, claiming it was too vague, constituted taking of profits from business owners and offered no due-process system for those charged under the ordinance.
U.S. District Judge Mike Mills made minor changes to the ordinance, but upheld most of it.
“There is no constitutional right to smoke,” he said.
Also in 2006
– A new Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house opened at Ole Miss, two years after a fire in the old residence killed three students.
n University Police Department officer Robert Langley was killed on Oct. 21 while trying to arrest Ole Miss student freshman Daniel Reed Cummings, who took off at a traffic stop while Langley hung on to the vehicle. Cummings had alcohol, marijuana and cocaine in his system. Langley’s death and Cummings’ arrest led Ole Miss to evaluate a so-called “culture of alcohol” among Ole Miss students.
– Robert “Doc” Foglesong, a former Air Force general, took over as Mississippi State University’s 18th president in April.
– On Dec. 5, a home exploded on Palmetto Road. Five people were injured in the blast that officials say most likely was due to a propane gas leak. Three weeks after the explosion, 3-year-old Natetreuna Hunt died at a Georgia burn center after her lungs collapsed.
n Robert Hall, former Tupelo deputy chief of police, was indicted after a May 28 incident in which Hall was accused of allowing a motorist, Jamison Shells, to go free after Shells’ vehicle left the scene after allegedly hitting a young boy riding his bike. The investigation spawned race-related complaints about the TPD and the city. The City Council hired an ethicist to do a citywide assessment.
– The Hilton Garden Inn and the BancorpSouth Conference Center opened in downtown Tupelo in December.