In a brief special noon meeting Monday, the Great Bend City Council rejected an amendment to the city’s fireworks ordinance that would have allowed the discharge of fireworks on both Friday, July 3 and on Saturday, July 4.
Each of the six council members present said the majority of the calls they’d received from constituents opposed the idea. The issue then died when no one offered a motion to advance the amendment.
Also present were Linda Barnes of T&L Fireworks and Mitch Menges of Wald and Company Fireworks who spoke in favor of the change. But, both said they supported whatever action the council took.
Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano voiced his concerns about the extra day, noting it would stress his department. He was also concerned about the chance of dealing with multiple calls at one time.
The question was raised among council members during the their goal-setting session last Monday after the Barton County Commission approved fireworks on July 3 in unincorporated areas of the county only. By Tuesday morning, the requisite number of council members (three) had requested a special meeting, and Partington along with Mayor Mike Allison started calling to set a time and date.
Council members Allene Owen, Joel Jackson and Mike Zinn made the request. Five council members have agreed to attend the meeting, which enough of the seven-member council to conduct business.
According to the meeting agenda, Linda Barnes of T&L Fireworks had contacted council members and asked that the city hold a special meeting.
The current ordinance reads: “It is unlawful for any person to fire or discharge any fireworks in the city, except on the fourth day of July between the hours of ten a.m. and twelve midnight on said date, unless the fourth of July falls on a Sunday, and then between the hours of twelve noon and twelve midnight on said day, and from ten a.m. on July 3, 2015, to twelve midnight,. provided further that no fireworks shall be discharged in any city park. The governing body may, in its discretion, grant permission at any time for the public display of fireworks by responsible individuals or organizations when such display shall be of such character and so located, discharged and fired as not to be a fire hazard and endanger persons or surrounding property; and in no case shall such display be held within four hundred twenty feet of any building in the city.”
The amendment would have only applied to this year and would have permitted the discharge of fireworks from 10 a.m. to midnight that Friday.
Elsewhere in the county, Hoisington and Pawnee Rock will allow fireworks on July 3. Ellinwood and Claflin will not.
The county-wide discharge of fireworks on both Friday, July 3, and Saturday, July 4, was OKed by the County Commission following a split decision Monday morning.
The resolution permitting the extra day for feting the Fourth was requested and supported by commission Chairman Kenny Schremmer. He saw it as an opportunity to help fireworks vendors impacted when drought conditions forced a county ban in 2012.
However, some on the commission agreed with the fire chiefs from the communities in the county in opposing the move.