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Rockets' red glare too explosive for some Grandview residents

GRANDVIEW - It was the aftermath of this year's Fourth of July celebration that upset Grandview Mayor Norm Childress.

"I don't want what occurred in Grandview in 2005 to occur again," Childress said Monday night during a public hearing on the issue of fireworks in the city.

Grandview is one of a handful of cities in Yakima County that still allows the sale and discharge of fireworks on the Fourth of July. But this year, streets and parking lots littered with fireworks debris following the national holiday has people worried.

For Grandview resident Sherry Bean, it was more than the trash that upset her this Fourth of July.

"It was like being in Iraq," Bean said of the explosions that rocketed her house during the holiday. "I was awakened by a boom that shook the windows in my house."

Bean added that it wasn't just on the Fourth of July that she heard the snap, crackle, pop of fireworks in her Avenue G neighborhood.

"There has hardly been a day from June 23 to now that there haven't been fireworks," Bean said.

Bean wasn't the only person in attendance at last night's Grandview City Council meeting who had issues with this year's Fourth of July display.

Alonzo Magana said he can't go anywhere on the Fourth of July because he has to stay home and ensure his house doesn't fall victim to wayward fireworks.

"I need to stand guard...to make sure my house doesn't burn down," Magana said.

He added that there was also a lot of fireworks debris in his neighborhood.

"It landed on my roof, in my front yard and in my back yard," Magana said of the fireworks debris.

For Boyd Shannon, fireworks have already struck close to home. He said last year there was a fire at his Vivian Drive home that destroyed a fence, a vehicle and some shrubbery. Although it can't be proven that the cause of the fire was fireworks, Shannon said a neighbor reported to him that a few minutes before the flames started there had been some kids lighting off bottle rockets in the area.

"It's not a matter of if we have a fire, it's a matter of when," Shannon told council members.

But many people in the community enjoy the freedom their city has given them to set off fireworks in celebration of the country's independence.

Jack Mariotti of West Concord Avenue said the Fourth of July has turned into a night when neighborhoods and families come together to celebrate.

"(This is) how our country was founded, the rockets' red glare," Mariotti said. "Let's celebrate our independence, not add more ordinances that take away our freedom."

Dan Denchel said coming together on the Fourth of July has turned into a tradition in Grandview.

"I'm a proud member of the community and the fact that we have this privilege to set off fireworks is just tremendous," Denchel said.

Jack Hughes, the owner of Discount Fireworks, said that the two fireworks stands he sets up in Grandview every year are operated by the parents booster club. He explained that money raised at the fireworks stands goes back to the community, noting that this year the booster club is receiving nearly $8,000 from the fund-raiser.

He added that a lot of the complaints being brought to council were in reference to bottle rockets, which are illegal in Grandview and aren't sold at local fireworks stands.

Hughes said Discount Fireworks only sells Washington state approved fireworks, which are of the safe and sane variety approved for sale in Grandview.

Childress said one option might be bringing in extra officers to patrol the streets on the Fourth of July and ticket those who are discharging illegal fireworks.

Childress passed around pictures of the aftermath seen in Grandview on July 5. The pictures show roadways and parking lots strewn with fireworks garbage.

Grandview City Council member Joan Souders noted that the deck of her house looks out over Dykstra Park and on July 5 she was appalled at the litter she saw around the park.

"What I saw was just a disregard for public property," Souders said.

Councilman Rick McLean suggested that the city work on educating the public about cleaning up after themselves when it comes to fireworks, adding that maybe the city could enlist the help of local service groups to keep the streets clean after the holiday.

City Administrator Jim Sewell noted that the city spent about $1,000 on clean-up efforts after the Fourth of July holiday.

Childress then explained that whatever decision city council makes in the coming weeks regarding the Fourth of July, it will have no effect on the 2006 holiday. He said any changes the city makes won't go into effect for one year, meaning that the issue currently being debated will affect the 2007 holiday.

"So we have plenty of time," Childress said.

Childress and the rest of the council voted Monday night to table the decision on fireworks until the council's special meeting on Monday, July 25. Childress said during the meeting the council will discuss what direction to take, noting that it might behoove the city to form a task force to look further into the issue before a final decision is made.

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