In Print: No smoking in Pasco, running the Boston Marathon, and a new app

Despite the numerous health warnings against it, more than 42 million Americans — 18.1 percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control — smoke cigarettes.

They light up at home, they light up in the car, during meals, or when ever they may be stressed.

However, those smokers may not be welcome to work with the Pasco County government come October if a plan offered by a committee led by Commissioner Henry Wilson moves forward. County officials want to ban smokers from getting jobs with the county, even if they only smoke at home on their own time. Someone getting a job with the county would have to sign an affidavit saying they haven’t smoked for the past year, and are aware they could be fired if they were caught smoking, even off company time.

County performance development director Marc Bellas, who introduced the current draft of this policy to the Pasco County Commission last week, admits this is a controversial proposal that could very well change between now and October.

“We have a few challenges that we can’t ignore,” Bellas told reporter Michael Hinman. “Between 24 and 25 percent of our employees right now use tobacco, and a lot of them are in the entry-level positions in roads and bridges, and in utilities. The folks in those departments already have a hard enough time keeping those positions filled. If we take one more thing away, and they believe it’s going to be a problem, then that is not a good choice for us.”

One person who likely wouldn’t have to worry about getting a job at the county is Trish Trout, who is getting ready to run in the 118th Boston Marathon later this month. The Wesley Chapel woman is training for the 26.2-mile race as a way to raise money for charity.

“If you look at me, I’m not built to be a runner,” Trout told reporter B.C. Manion. But “I will crawl. I will roll. It doesn’t matter. I will cross that finish line on the day that I’m supposed to.”

Adam Bohn isn’t big on traditional business attire, but his Lutz-based company, Artix Entertainment, is big on video games. Their latest offering, ‘Battle Gems,’ is their first on mobile platforms. (Photo courtesy of Adam Bohn)

Adam Bohn isn’t big on traditional business attire, but his Lutz-based company, Artix Entertainment, is big on video games. Their latest offering, ‘Battle Gems,’ is their first on mobile platforms. (Photo courtesy of Adam Bohn)

Already crossing a different finish line is Artix Entertainment in Lutz. This app development company recently completed work on its newest game “Battle Gems,” which is now available in the Apple iTunes Store, and soon for Google Play as well.

“We’ve put a lot of heart into this game, but we didn’t expect the kind of reaction that our players are giving us,” Adam Bohn, chief executive of Artix Entertainment, told reporter Michael Murillo. “Very consistently, from people who know us, we’re getting (user grades of) 4.5 out of 5, and 9 out of 10. The reviews have been just overwhelmingly positive.”

All of these stories and more are in this week’s The Laker/Lutz News, available in newsstands throughout east and central Pasco County as well as northern Hillsborough County. Find out what has your community talking this week by getting your local news straight from the only source you need.

If The Laker/Lutz News is not coming to your door, call us to see where you can get your copy at (813) 909-2800, or read our free e-edition by clicking here.

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