Archive for Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bang may return to city’s Fourth

July 14, 2005

As De Soto emerged from a cloud of resident-created smoke the evening of July Fourth, city council member Ted Morse wondered why the city bothered banning fireworks.

"It's very apparent that what we're doing is not working," he told fellow De Soto City Council members at the council's July 7 meeting.

The city currently prohibits the sale and use of fireworks. But Morse said De Soto could benefit if that were changed and asked the council to place fireworks sales on the agenda for one of the next upcoming meetings.

Morse said revenue from fireworks sales could help both community groups and the city. Since so many residents were intent upon buying fireworks anyway, they might as well shop at home, he said.

"I'd like to see the non-profit groups and organizations sell fireworks in De Soto as fund-raisers," Morse said.

"Why not take money away from Bonner Springs, Eudora, Lenexa, and put the money in the city? We can charge sales tax."

Morse urged council members to talk to friends and neighbors to prepare for a discussion about lifting the ban.

Some council members agreed that allowing fireworks might not be so bad.

"I think it's ridiculous that they're illegal over the Fourth of July weekend," council member Mitra Templin said. "Because it's a war zone everywhere."

Templin said if fireworks were allowed for a three-day time period, it would be easier to regulate their use on other days, such as the week after the Fourth when people let down their guards and let animals out again, for example.

But council member Linda Zindler, a property manager, said she had five windows broken out of buildings near fireworks stands in Kansas City, Kan., during the July Fourth weekend.

Zindler balked at the idea of allowing fireworks in De Soto, too.

"There's a direct correlation between damage and the sale of fireworks," she said. "I might have a problem with that."

With the exception of licensed public displays, fireworks are prohibited in unincorporated Johnson County. Municipal bans are decided by individual cities.

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office reported that officers responded to 14 fireworks-related calls in De Soto during the holiday weekend. Of those, 11 were on Monday.

Nearly all calls were from people reporting their neighbors shooting fireworks.

Deputy Mark Leiker said he thought enforcing a fireworks ban on July Fourth was practically a lost cause because use was so widespread.

"It's almost impossible," he said.

Leiker said deputies didn't always issue citations for fireworks unless someone was belligerent; they usually just tell the user to put them away.

However, fireworks calls can be like a never-ending loop.

Leiker said when deputies stopped to shut down one group of fireworks users, people were quick to bring their attention to everyone else on the block using fireworks.

"As soon as you stop, they point down the street and say 'What about them?'" Leiker said.

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