City welcomes fireworks back to Fourth fete
This year's local Fourth of July may not be any louder, but it will be more legal.
For the first time in recent memory, the use and sale of fireworks will be legal in De Soto. After last year's holiday, the De Soto City Council agreed to allow the use of fireworks in recognition that the ban was widely ignored.
The council also allowed the sale of fireworks in the hopes some local organizations could use stands as fund-raisers. Two non-profits, VFW Post 6654 and the De Soto High School football team, will have fireworks stands this year.
The first day the stands can vend fireworks is Thursday. They can remain open through Tuesday. Fireworks can be discharged from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Monday and from 10 a.m. to midnight on the Fourth.
De Soto city building and codes inspector Steve Chick encouraged residents to buy their fireworks at the De Soto stands not only because that would support local organizations but because their inventory matches those fireworks legal in the De Soto ordinance.
The use of permitted fireworks is banned within 1,000 feet of a medical building, home for the aged or school and on all public property including parks, sidewalks and streets.
Johnson County Deputy Mark Leiker said the sheriff's office found the ban unenforceable because violations were so widespread. The new ordinance will allow deputies to act on complaints found to be in violation, he said.
A point of emphasis will be stopping the use of fireworks at Miller Park and the Sunflower ball fields at the request of city park and recreation director Jay Garvin, Leiker said.
De Soto Fire Chief Kevin Ritter said he didn't anticipate any more problems than customary, in part because of the ineffectiveness of the fireworks ban.
Those using fireworks should heed the common-sense warnings of the Kansas Fire Marshal Office, Ritter said (see info graph).
Deputies have also been asked by the school district to stop the use of fireworks at the community fireworks display on the Fourth and to prevent parking or driving on the grass, Leiker said.
People are asked to park either in the Lexington Trails Middle School or De Soto High School lots, Chick said. The lots at the district administrative building and Starside Elementary School will be blocked off, Chick said.
The fireworks display, set for 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at the De Soto High School stadium should be "stellar," Chick said. The city council approved $6,000 for Wald's All-American Fireworks Display to put on a show, he said.
"There will be more than 400 shots and the grand finale will have 125 shots," he said.
When passing the ordinance to lift the ban on the sale and use of fireworks, council members agreed they would see how the new arrangement went. Chick said residents should remember that during the next few days.
"For the thing to continue onward, we want to have the minimum numbe