Zech cites several Wyo cities with cellphone bans in third request to Evanston council

Fred Zech, who lives on 6th Street in Evanston, distributes ordinances adopted by several Wyoming cities that ban cellphone use while driving. Zech made his third request last week for the Evanston City Council to adopt a similar law. Also pictured are council members Tim Lynch, Tib Ottley and Evan Perkes. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — For the third time in recent months, local resident Fred Zech pleaded with the Evanston City Council to pass an ordinance against the use of cellphones or wireless communication devices while operating a vehicle in the city. Zech’s request came at last week’s regular meeting, held Tuesday, Sept. 21, during which he provided all council members and the Herald with a packet containing copies of ordinances from five Wyoming cities — Laramie, Rock Springs, Jackson, Cheyenne and Powell — which already have enacted such a law.

“I talked to police chiefs and officers in each of the cities, and they all said they have no problems with enforcing the law,” Zech said. “They said the usual procedure is to first give a warning and a second offense brings a fine. The officers said that usually the word gets around pretty fast and people start complying with the law.”

Zech also addressed Evanston Mayor Kent Williams’ response to the request during a previous meeting. That comment came on Aug. 24, shortly after a child was struck and killed on 6th Street in Evanston, though there was no indication the driver in that incident was using a cellphone or distracted.

“Most people here would say it is infringing on personal freedom and, in our society, this will be the argument,” Williams said during the August meeting, when Zech asked the council to consider a new ordinance.

Zech compared his request to current seatbelt laws.

“As far as your concern over personal freedom and choice, it is no different than the law requiring people to wear seat belts and we know that law has saved lives,” he said.

Zech asked the council to please pass an ordinance before someone is hit and possibly killed by someone driving while using a cellphone. The research shows, he said, that it is illegal to text and drive in 49 states, and 23 states have stated they have no problem enforcing the law.

Another local resident, Dr. David Hill, addressed the council and added his support to Zech’s statement while requesting the council pass an ordinance to keep the community safe. 

“As a former school teacher and coach, I am concerned about the danger when young people drive and use cellphones,” Hill said.

Once again, Mayor Williams told Zech and Hill they would take the matter into consideration and thanked them both for their comments and concerns.

At the beginning of the meeting, two items on the agenda regarding the Old Town Hall were removed until a later date and a new item was added.

The council approved a parade route permit for the Disability:IN Uinta County parade to take place on Oct. 20, beginning at the Machine Shop at 12:30 p.m., proceeding down Main Street and ending at the library parking lot.

The council also approved a street closure of Center Street between 8th to 9th streets from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3, for the St. Mary Magdalen Catholic church’s blessing of the animals event.

The council approved a grant contract with the Wyoming Energy Authority (WEA) for the lighting retrofit project to upgrade the existing fluorescent lights in the Machine Shop and section one of the Roundhouse. 

“This lighting project is part of the WATT Smart program and will give the city an annual cost savings of $4,000,” grant writer Mieke Madrid explained.

Regarding a resolution to authorize the agreement with Forsgren Associates to provide engineering and construction management services for the Sage Street waterline replacement project, Evanston Public Works Director Gordon Robinson told the council that the water line on Sage currently has 4-inch pipes, which are not big enough to handle any growth in water use and it has become a maintenance issue. Robinson said installing 8-inch pipes would take place next spring, but by approving the contract with Forsgren now it would allow ECDC to proceed with their building project.

The council unanimously approved the contract with Forsgren Associates.

Robinson then addressed the new agenda item.

“There was a misunderstanding with the former low bid offer as I had talked to two different people,” he said. “Ultimately, the price for the type of truck we needed for the water department couldn’t be guaranteed, so I’m asking you to accept the next lowest bid, which is from Fremont Chevrolet Buick GMC out of Riverton.”

The council unanimously approved the request.

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