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[November 26, 2012]
Cell phone ban, Kidsports easement on Kalispell agenda
Nov 25, 2012 (Daily Inter Lake - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- In an effort to cut down on distracted driving, Kalispell City Council tonight considers a draft ordinance that would prohibit people from using cell phones and other handheld devices while behind the wheel.
A sample ordinance provided by Police Chief Roger Nasset mirrors ordinances adopted in Whitefish and Columbia Falls.
City Council members cannot take formal action at tonight's work session, but are being asked to weigh in on the subject. The draft ordinance was requested two months ago by council member Jim Atkinson.
If eventually enacted, the draft ordinance would ban people from using or holding cell phones and other handheld electronic devices while driving or riding a bike on public roads in the city.
The draft ordinance would impose fines up to $100 for first offenses and fines up to $300 for additional offenses.
It would not apply to passengers in vehicles, to drivers who use hands-free devices, or to drivers who use handheld devices while parked or to report an emergency. It also includes exemptions for law enforcement and other emergency responders, for people who use two-way radios as part of their work duties and for people who hold valid amateur radio operator licenses.
CITY COUNCIL members also will discuss how much money Kalispell should contribute to help acquire a permanent easement for the Kidsports youth athletic complex.
Past council discussions focused on tapping the city's Airport Tax Increment Financing District to pay the full $2.3 million cost of the easement. In exchange, Kidsports would agree to raise money and improve the popular sports fields, which were developed on Section 36 school trust land in north Kalispell.
Other options vary greatly.
Kalispell could provide no money, leaving Kidsports to raise money for the easement through private donations. Kalispell could offer loans that must be repaid, offer a combination of loans and grants, or issue general obligation bonds if authorized through a future election, City Manager Doug Russell said.
Tonight's work session starts at 7 p.m. in Kalispell City Hall, 201 First Ave. E. It is open to the public.
Reporter Tom Lotshaw may be reached at 758-4483 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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