PENDLETON — The Pendleton City Council voted to support a Umatilla County-wide tobacco license program, but only narrowly.
According to city staff and multiple councilors, the council voted 4-3 to support the program, with councilors Becky Marks, McKennon McDonald and Dale Primmer voting against it. Councilor Jake Cambier was absent.
The Umatilla County Health Department aims to reduce youth smoking by having every tobacco retailer in the county obtain a county-issued license.
According to documents provided to the council, Umatilla County is the highest in the state for youth use of e-cigarettes and third highest for youth tobacco use of any kind.
Under the licensing program, the county could revoke the license if a retailer sold tobacco to anyone under 21.
In an interview Wednesday, Primmer said he voted against supporting the program because there were still too many unanswered questions regarding how the county would implement and enforce the program.
“If we do something, we need to make sure it’s effective,” he said.
He also pointed to research that showed that most youth get their tobacco from relatives or friends rather than illegally buying it from a store.
McDonald echoed many of Primmer’s points and added that only a few cities in Umatilla County have supported the license.
Less contentious was approval of a $68,995 grant to install an electric car charging station near the Heritage Station Museum in downtown Pendleton.
The grant covers the cost of installation and the city expects the charging fees will pay for the cost of operating the station.
Although McDonald recused herself because her husband worked on the grant application, the council unanimously approved the grant, according to City Manager Robb Corbett.
The council also unanimously approved the purchase of two computer numerical control machines using a state grant.
According to a staff report, the machines will be used in the Pendleton Unmanned Aerial Systems Range’s rapid prototyping workshop, allowing the test range’s customers to manufacture part prototypes on-site rather than shipping them in from elsewhere.