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Ephedra Ban May Span County

Proposed ban targets minors

Mar 15, 2003 | THE COURIER Logan County has joined the fight against ephedrine.

Without a second thought, board members unanimously agreed at their workshop session Thursday to draft a resolution that would prohibit people under age 21 to buy or possess products containing ephedrine.

In addition, the proposal would stipulate that retailers put the products like "Yellow Jacket," "Stacker 3" and "Go Go Go Juice" behind the sales counter, which would deter young people from stealing or being tempted to use the products.

The Lincoln City Council is expected to pass a similar ordinance Monday.

The anti-ephedra campaign has accumulated a plethora of interest from the media, especially since local and state politicians have joined efforts to ban the products that are marketed as energy boosters and dietary supplements.

Logan County residents have been familiar with the products' deadly effects since September when Lincoln lost 16-year-old Sean Riggins, a popular Lincoln Community High School student and football player.

Riggins died from a heart attack after ingesting Yellow Jacket, an energy enhancer containing ephedra, in an attempt to excel during football practice.

Following their son's death, Kevin and Debbie Riggins jump-started an anti-ephedra movement in hopes of preventing other families from the pain of losing a loved one to ephedrine.

Kevin Riggins started The Sean Riggins Foundation for Substance Free Schools and even offered to assist the startup of a Logan County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Joining Kevin Riggins in the stance against ephedrine is Coroner Chuck Fricke.

"It's time for the hometown (of Sean Riggins) to step up to the plate," Fricke told board members Thursday. "It's time for Lincoln/Logan County to tell its citizens and athletes that it is unacceptable to take (ephedrine)."

Members will officially cast their vote on the matter at its adjourned meeting Tuesday.

In another matter, members tentatively agreed to renew their health insurance contract for another year with Health Alliance through the R.W. Garrett agency in Lincoln.

The new contract agreement, which is effective May 1, increases the county's premium by 15 percent or about $60,000.

The board also decided to place a $300 cap on future premiums the county will pay per person.

"In the future, anything over $300 will be paid by the employees," member Paul Gleason said.

Members Dave Hepler and Terry "T.W." Werth opposed the contract because the insurance and legislation committee did not solicit bids from other health care providers.

"We didn't go out for proposals," Hepler said. "We don't have anything to lose. We've done it in the past and saved tax payers thousands of dollars."

Hepler also spoke of consideration for employees, who last year paid an additional $800 premium to cover their families, and will pay an additional $700 for family coverage under the proposed contract.

R.W. Garrett agent Sara Schwantz said the county is getting a deal on their contract renewal rate.

"The trend right now is (for premiums to increase) 18 percent," Schwantz said. "This is (one of the better insurance plans) I've delivered this year."

In 2002, the county board's health insurance rate increased by 23 percent, and so far is showing a surplus of $22,457.

However, that surplus doesn't include 2001's deficit of $170,497, Schwantz said.

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