Tuesday, March 18

Lincoln passes new ephedra ordinance

[MARCH 18, 2003]  As expected, the Lincoln City Council agreed unanimously to add a chapter to the city ordinance that will prohibit the sale of products containing ephedra to those under the age of 18 and require that stores that sell the products keep them behind the counter.

Penalties for merchants who violate the new ordinance will be a fine of not less that $100 or more than $400 for the first offense, and not less than $400 nor more than $750 for a second or any subsequence offenses.

The council heard a presentation last week from Kevin Riggins and Logan County Coroner Chuck Fricke about the dangers of ephedra. Riggins' 16-year-old son Sean died of a heart attack after taking Yellow Jackets, pills that contain ephedra, caffeine and other stimulants.

City Attorney Bill Bates said he had been contacted by some of the larger retailers that sell ephedra products, who said they will need some time to get the products behind the counter.

He said he told the retailers the ordinance would not go into effect until it has been published in pamphlet form, which will take about 10 days.

"They did not seem alarmed by that," he told the council.

Kevin and Debbie Riggins and Fricke have been campaigning since Sean's death to keep ephedra products out of the hands of young people. Although ephedra products have been implicated in thousands of adverse reactions and at least 100 deaths, it is still legal to sell them as "food supplements." The products are used by young people to enhance performance for sports events and for weight loss, and by adults who drive trucks or work nights to stay awake, Fricke said.


Kevin Riggins told the council last week that Lincoln could lead the way to regulating ephedra in Illinois. Although there are bills pending in both the Illinois House and the Senate to limit, or even ban entirely, the sale of ephedra products, neither body has taken final action.

Riggins said he was happy the council passed the ordinance. "Let's get this in place, take it one step farther, go to the state and get it done," he said.

The Rigginses and Fricke are making presentations at schools in central Illinois and beyond to alert young people to the dangers of using the herbal supplement. They have given programs at Lincoln Community High School, Chillicothe High School and Whitney Young School in Chicago. They are scheduled to go to schools in Decatur, Normal, Delavan, Mattoon, a community near Effingham and several others, Debbie Riggins said.


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In other business, the council agreed to repair a sidewalk in front of a group home in the city, even though they have just learned that the facility is exempt from paying property taxes to the city.

The CILA (community-integrated living arrangement) at 302 N. Sherman St., operated by the Charleston Transitional Facility, asked for the sidewalk repair. The Charleston firm has just been notified by the Illinois Department of Revenue that it is exempt from paying real estate taxes, Bates said, because it is a not-for-profit organization.

Bates said he submitted a letter to the local Board of Review asking that the CILA's request for tax-exempt status be denied. The board did deny the request, but the state overruled the local board, he said.

Alderman Glenn Shelton, who lives in Ward 4, where the CILA is located, said last week he was going to vote against the request for sidewalk repair because he disagreed with the state's decision.

"I didn't want to vote on increasing the value of privately owned property that doesn't pay property taxes," he said.

However, he told the council Monday, he has changed his mind. "I will be voting yes on the petition. The city and the ward I serve comes before my personal feelings."

Alderman Steve Fuhrer asked if the construction work to build the CILA had damaged the sidewalk. Street Superintendent Don Osborne said the walk was in bad shape before the group home was built.

Fuhrer also reminded the council that the time to vote on 0.5 percent city sales tax increase is coming soon. He pointed out that the regular sales tax in Bloomington-Normal is 7.5 percent, but the tax on food and alcoholic beverages served in a restaurant is 9.5 percent. If passed at the April 1 general election, the tax increase in Lincoln would rise from 6.25 percent to 6.75 percent. There would be no tax increase on food or prescription drugs or on vehicles licensed by the state.

The council also passed a motion recognizing former Ward 5 Alderman Michael T. Montcalm for his service on the council from May 1, 1989, to Feb. 8, 2003. Montcalm resigned in February, saying he needed the time to devote to his family.

[Joan Crabb]

Articles from the past week


  • Practical emergency preparations for you and your family

  • Proposed law reduces appeals by dangerous sex offenders  (Law & Courts)

  • Blagojevich promotes plan to revitalize state's coal industry, create jobs


  • Lincoln earns community policing award

  • Girl Scout Week celebrates the fun, friendship and power of girls together  (Community)

  • Illinois to lead business development through entrepreneurship centers

  • New Department of Corrections head resigns position


  • Six arrested for dealing crack cocaine
    (posted Friday afternoon on Law & Courts)

  • County poised to spend 15 percent more for employee insurance

  • Lincoln and Logan County bucking the trends
    Economic growth slow but steady


  • Mount Pulaski man charged with murder in baby's death  (Law & Courts)

  • District 27 faces tough funding choices

  • Blagojevich outlines bold agenda to bring change, move the state forward

  • Bomke responds to State of State: Funding reforms needed first


  • Lincoln can lead state and nation in
    ephedra ban
    Budget meeting Saturday

  • Winter 2002-03 and spring outlook


  • Cook selected as Big Ten's Player of the Year

  • Nationally known business leaders to host seminar in Lincoln  (Business)

  • Submit your vote for Cook for Senior CLASS Award  (Sports)

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