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      Post 444 may continue to fight

      Even though a judge has dismissed its lawsuit, American Legion Post 444 may not be done fighting Michigan TMs smoking ban.

      A written decision, released Tuesday, essentially ended the Post's case and continued its court-ordered compliance with the Smoke Free Air Act.

      There weren't any patrons to talk to at Post 444 Wednesday morning, but there were several handmade signs that suggested their disappointment in the judge's decision. Among the messages, a notice that the bar has reduced its hours.

      "I TMve talked to the commander and he's not happy, says spokesman Joseph O TMLeary. Nobody's happy with this injunction being in place, primarily because, contrary to other assertions out there, this has been very bad for business."

      The ruling came more than three weeks after all of the parties involved met for a special hearing in Houghton. In an eight-page written decision, Judge Charles Goodman ordered permanent compliance though he left room for the State to decide whether that ban applies to the entire facility or if the front room, which contains a Pull Tabs machine, is exempt.

      Attorney Paul Strom, who represents the Western U.P. Health Department, is celebrating the decision which he said, " good because it protects innocent people from the harm of second-hand smoke."

      Members of the Post certainly aren't celebrating, but they don't feel defeated either.

      "The complaint was dismissed without prejudice, O TMLeary says. The judge ruled that we should've exhausted our administrated remedies before coming to court. So in essence, he didn't decide anything other than we need to go back and start again."

      O TMLeary says the Post's options include an appeal of this decision or, more than likely, another lawsuit.

      He says the executive board will meet with their attorney next week to discuss those options.