GRANDVIEW - A committee that was formed in Grandview at the request of Mayor Norm Childress to address the combat conditions that envelop the community every Fourth of July has decided it wants to keep allowing the public to discharge fireworks.
However, the recommendations the committee will be sending to the Grandview City Council will slightly change the way the community looks at its Fourth of July celebration.
"The mayor was very upset (with the way the Fourth of July was handled in Grandview)," said committee chair Helen Darr, who also serves on the Grandview City Council.
Darr said the mayor had specific concerns with the almost military like action that took over Grandview on the Fourth of July and the mammoth mess that was left in its wake.
Darr touched on letters presented to the committee by both Grandview Police Chief Dave Charvet and Grandview Fire Chief Charles Damron.
Charvet said his department responded to 30 fireworks related calls between the July 1 and July 4, the time when it is legal to sell fireworks in Grandview. On the Fourth of July alone, the only day it is legal to discharge fireworks in Grandview, the police department had an additional 60 contacts for fireworks related incidents. Charvet said there were also areas in Grandview that had noticeable cloud formations from the excess amount of smoke that was created by the fireworks.
Damron said the fire department in past years hasn't seen a problem with fireworks. But increasing the problem is that a number of people are coming from other cities to discharge fireworks in Grandview. Damron expressed concern that the number of emergency calls could rise with additional people coming into the community. Damron said he would like to see the city ban fireworks starting in 2007 to reduce the risk of serious injuries and property loss. Damron recommended there be some sort of community fireworks display, so families could still stay in Grandview and celebrate the Fourth of July in a safe manner.
Darr also shared some correspondences she had where one citizen had trouble breathing from fireworks and another individual had fireworks thrown at their car.
Task force member and Councilman Rick McLean said he usually wants to follow the advice of department heads, because they are the ones who are out in the community. But he was glad the task force was formed because the issue of whether people can continue to discharge fireworks in Grandview is a serious one.
"We are slowly taking away the rights of people," said McLean.
McLean said he doesn't want to take away the rights of the residents, particularly involving something such as celebrating Independence Day.
McLean said he can remember when he was a child on the Fourth of July and discharging fireworks. He didn't want to take away those fond memories that the Fourth of July can provide for families.
"What are our kids going to be able to think back and remember," said McLean.
McLean also mentioned that at an earlier city council meeting where the fireworks issue was discussed, many of the complaints had to do with bottle rockets being discharged, which none of the fireworks stands in Grandview sold. McLean said this means that the bottle rockets were being brought into Grandview from other communities.
McLean suggested the city begin a massive education program for residents about the dangers of fireworks while educating the community on the regulations for discharging fireworks within the city.
"I think it is worth a shot to try and keep fireworks in our town," said McLean.
Fellow task force member Sherri Bean agreed with McLean's recommendation, suggesting every June the city place huge posters around the community detailing all of the regulations for discharging fireworks.
"If we are going to want to keep something (such as fireworks), we are going to have to work for it," said Bean.
Bean offered a suggestion the rest of the task force was open to trying. She suggested Council open the Country Park and Fairgrounds for a community celebration on the Fourth of July. She suggested having fire department staff on hand and try to turn the event into a real opportunity to bring the community together.
The task force also recommended changing the last hour residents could purchase fireworks on July 4. The task force recommended moving the last hour that fireworks could be purchased from midnight until 10 p.m. Residents will still be able to discharge fireworks on the Fourth of July from 9 a.m. until midnight.
Another task force recommendation was to only sell fireworks from 10 a.m. on July 2 till 10 p.m. on July 4. In the past, residents have been able to purchase fireworks beginning July 1.
Another recommendation that will go before the Council is to have a task force member, along with the fire chief, meet with a representative from each fireworks stand to discuss what the city would like to see happen with the sale of fireworks. The task force wanted to make this educational component for fireworks distributors a part of being able to obtain a permit.
The task force will hold another meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Council chambers to further examine its recommendations.
The recommendations are then slated to go before Council at its Tuesday, Sept. 6, meeting.