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Council split on fireworks

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

McCOOK, Nebraska -- Police Chief Isaac Brown said a new fireworks law may make parts of an old law ineffective.

The comment came as the McCook City Council discussed a proposed ordinance revision Monday evening at council chambers.

"In effect, it would become unenforceable," Brown said.

The council approved the first reading of the ordinance to add a December fireworks-selling period, but amended its original wording to remove an increase to the time citizens can shoot them off.

The approval is the first of three required readings before the change can go into effect and came on a 3-2 split vote.

The McCook city ordinance now allows fireworks to be fired 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., on Dec. 31 to Jan. 1, and sold only between June 28 and July 4.

The second selling period that was approved will be Dec. 28 through Jan. 1, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Use of fireworks was proposed to change to that same time period, with council ultimately approving the selling period but leaving the allowed use time as it currently reads, prompting Brown's comment.

"Does the overwhelming majority of McCook want to listen to that?" asked Councilman Jerry Calvin. Calvin voiced strong opposition to the changes. He stated his church group sold fireworks during the July selling season and had received a letter from their vendor that it was not economically viable to utilize the December selling season. "No reason we should have to tolerate fireworks being blown off at this time of year," said Calvin, who added, "if we start here, where do we stop? Why not offer it 365 days a year?"

Councilman Mike Gonzales pointed out that the change stemmed from a legislative bill that Governor Dave Heineman passed in April. The bill allows for the second selling period, previously prohibited by state law.

pointed out that the change stemmed from a legislative bill that Governor Dave Heineman passed in April. The bill allows for the second selling period, previously prohibited by state law.

Councilman Aaron Kircher said there was interest and the city had already received a request from one vendor to sell fireworks during the time period. "It's people celebrating, let them have a good time," said Kircher.

Calvin was unconvinced the changes should be implemented, saying just before council members submitted their split decision, "I don't see the need in McCook Nebraska to sell fireworks during the holiday season. It's asinine."

Pam Harsh, representing McCook Leadership Institute class of 2008, presented city council with their grant-funded plans for improvements to the east side of Norris Avenue at the B Street intersection. The group has hired an artist and aspires to incorporate landscape improvements with some version of a brick sculpture or artwork. Harsh narrated a slide presentation of several examples of brick artwork that has been done in other areas and said the group likes the idea of segmenting the area into two parts. One part would focus on the ideals of southwest Nebraska; faith, country, patriotism and education. The second part focused the physical characteristics; agriculture, railroad and hunting.

Gavin Harsh, representing the Youth Change Reaction group, presented council members with his groups ideas regarding the west side of Norris Avenue at the B Street intersection, the lot which the Romanoff building previously resided on. Gavin also narrated a slide presentation, with images of several fountains from other areas as well as painted murals throughout the city of Wheatland, Wyoming.

Doug Joyce of the Mid-Plains Community College Center for Enterprise closed for the trio by saying there were a lot of good ideas out there and they would like to work with other groups to solicit ideas and present them to city council.

Berggren Architects of Lincoln presented the city council with their proposed bid specifications for the Norris Band Shell renovations project. The renovations project will make improvements to the image of the building and make it much more user friendly, according to a representative from the firm. Council members unanimously approved the bid specifications and city staff set bid opening for Nov. 23.

The architect firm also advised council to approve and sign the memorandum of agreement between the city and the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office for the West Ward School building, which council subsequently approved on a unanimous vote. The memorandum details obligations of the city in order to use federal funds to demolish the building.

The council reviewed pictures presented by Sharon Boley of her home at 8101⁄2 W. Fourth Street that was recently declared a nuisance by the McCook Board of Health. Boley said she had been working hard to clean the property up and asked for continued patience from the council. Boley had been asked to have a plumbers evaluation completed by Monday's meeting, so that water could be restored to the property. She stated she was unable to accomplish that because the plumber she was working with said his "digger broke." City Manager Kurt Fritsch said he spoke with the company, confirming the equipment problem and that they were planning to be to the location in one and half to two weeks. Council members agreed to review the situation again at their Nov. 15 meeting and directed city staff to do an onsite inspection of the property prior to then.

Other nuisance abatement properties on the council's agenda included 211 West P and two homes on West Fairacres. The West P home was deemed to have the requested work completed and council voted to withdraw the nuisance declaration. Action was postponed regarding the properties located at 1416 and 1418 W. Fairacres, until after a Nov. 3 meeting with the prospective new owner of the property.

Items on the consent agenda approved without discussion included;

* A revised lease agreement, that may provide insight into the direction city staff desires to go with future hangar rental fees at the airport, was approved. The approved agreement with AirMD and the city set their annual lease amount at $192.50 for 2011 and to jump significantly to $1200 per year in 2012-14.

An updated lease with Richard Trail was also approved. Approximately half the hangar space Trail currently leases at the McCook airport will be rented out to AirMD and the new agreement decreases his rent to reflect the change.

* Council members adopted a resolution approving the construction of a $970,344 wildlife fence at McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport. The project came after an FAA required wildlife assessment of the airport. 95 percent of the total cost of the project, $921,827, will be funded through the Airport Improvement Grant Program, with $5,434 paid by a grant from the Nebraska Aeronautics Commission. The remaining balance of $43,083 the city will be responsible for.

* City staff was approved to make the final payments to BSB Construction of Curtis for the Karrer Park Sanitary Sewer Forcemain project, as well as the South Street and Kelley Park Drive Water Main Improvements.

* Bid details were approved for the purchase of a new ambulance.

* MO Dough LLC was granted a special liquor license for a Business Christmas party scheduled for Dec. 4, 2010, at Red Willow County Fairgrounds.


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I live in an area where fireworks are sold 365 days a year and we've never had a problem with them. Usually only hear them around the fourth or news year and if the Bears win the super bowl.

Let the people of McCook decide if fireworks should be sold in December with their money.

-- Posted by npwinder on Tue, Nov 2, 2010, at 3:58 PM

What harm is done with celebrating the new year. The chinese have done it for Centuries and since they now own most of this country we might as well get used to their customs.

-- Posted by Joetheplumber on Tue, Nov 2, 2010, at 8:53 PM

As a kid growing up we shot off fireworks any time we wanted too, those days we also had M 80's and Cherry Bombs, Roman Candles, Buzz Bombs and etc. I agree with Joe, I enjoy the Chinese celebrations. Make them legal year round and let people start having fun again.

-- Posted by Oh what a wonderful day on Wed, Nov 3, 2010, at 9:41 AM


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