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Mayor wants Lockport to consider banning smoking in city parks

LOCKPORT – The City of Lockport may consider a law banning smoking in city parks.

Daniel J. Stapleton, Niagara County public health director, said Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey suggested the idea to North Park Junior High School students during an anti-smoking event there March 17.

“I would like to begin a public discussion in Lockport on the issue,” McCaffrey told The Buffalo News by text. But she added that she favors such a law.

Stapleton, speaking at this week’s meeting of the county Board of Health, said Niagara Falls already has such a law in its city parks. Niagara County parks do not ban smoking, but signs are up discouraging it, especially around areas frequented by children.

Stapleton said North Park students may take the lead in pushing for an anti-smoking law by lobbying the Common Council. Two aldermen contacted by The News, Anita Mullane and R. Joseph O’Shaughnessy, said they had no position yet on the issue.

In another matter, Environmental Health Director Paul R. Dicky said the county Health Department was called into Lockport in response to complaints about the presence of rats.

Stapleton said the investigation was conducted on Bob-O-Link Lane, a residential street in the eastern part of the city.

“None of our staff have seen rats,” Dicky said. But Stapleton said they did find evidence that the kind of food rats like was available and had been eaten, such as discarded pumpkins and last year’s unharvested vegetables left in gardens.

Stapleton said, “This is not unusual. It’s earlier than usual, because there’s no snow covering the food sources.”

He said the best way to move rats along is to clean up food sources, which also can include bird seed below feeders and dog feces. Also, heavy old vegetation, wood piles and objects of that nature are good hiding places for rodents.

Dicky said those who wish to trap the rats should be careful to place bait, such as peanut butter, on the trap while not touching the rat poison, because rats will detect the human scent and shy away from the trap.

On another topic, County Legislator and Board of Health member Richard L. Andres Jr. of North Tonawanda said the county is starting an opiate task force next week to work on ideas to try to stem the epidemic of drug overdose deaths.

The Legislature passed a measure Tuesday creating the committee, which will include four lawmakers, Stapleton, the sheriff, the emergency services director and the social services commissioner, as well as the three city police chiefs and three community members involved in emergency services or drug counseling.

The Legislature also appropriated $5,000 for training emergency medical personnel in the use of Narcan, the antidote to opiate overdoses.