City fireworks policy discussed
Later this month, the air will be filled with the sound of fireworks being discharged to celebrate the Independence Day holiday, as sales of Class C fireworks in Kansas — and the discharging of fireworks in Holton — will begin on Thursday, June 27.
For some, however — particularly pets and military veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, as Holton resident Diane Gruver reminded the Holton City Commission on Monday — the sound of fireworks can be frightening and disturbing.
Gruver asked commissioners during their regular meeting that evening to consider cutting the number of days that fireworks can be discharged in Holton from nine days to four — a request that she had brought to commissioners after last year’s Fourth of July festivities, although no formal action was taken by the commission at that time.
While commissioners were sympathetic to Gruver’s reason for wanting to limit fireworks discharge to between Monday, July 1 and Thursday, July 4, they also agreed that it was “too late” this year to do anything about it, one reason being because groups and organizations have already made financial commitments to purchase and sell fireworks for this year.
Commissioners said they wanted to hear both sides of the issue, particularly from veterans groups that sell fireworks, as Commissioner Tim Morris noted he had been contacted by representatives of the city’s American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters about having “the opportunity to present a different side” if the commission were to consider limiting fireworks discharge dates.
Holton City Manager Kerwin McKee reminded commissioners that the city’s laws for discharging Class C fireworks mirrors state sales regulations that permit sales between June 27 and July 5.
“When they sell them,” McKee said, “people shoot them.”
Gruver reminded commissioners that when she met with them last July to discuss the matter, most of them said they were sympathetic to the issue of dogs such as hers that are “literally scared to death” of fireworks and will not go outside when fireworks are being discharged. That sympathy was expressed again on Monday by commissioners.
Gruver also said men and women returning from military service overseas who have to deal with PTSD are “a more serious consideration,” although Morris said some who had served in the military volunteer their time to run a fireworks stand at the Veterans Club in Holton in recent years.
Holton Mayor Robert Dieckmann noted that last year, he took “an informal survey” of 55 people around Holton’s Town Square about limiting the number of days when fireworks could be discharged. Of that number, Dieckmann said, 51 said they wanted to keep things as they were, while only four said they would favor a limit.
Commissioner Dan Brenner agreed with Morris on wanting to hear all sides of the matter, noting that while he had pets who were scared of the loud noises that accompany fireworks discharges, there was also the matter of fireworks sellers who had already made a financial commitment to purchase fireworks for sale this year.
“The short timing is the problem at this point,” Brenner said. “We should do this in advance and make sure there’s an open forum for everyone.”
It has been reported that while some cities in northeastern Kansas, including Holton and Seneca, allow fireworks sales and discharge between June 27 and July 5, other cities limit the discharge period, and Hiawatha does not allow Class C fireworks discharges within the city limits at all.
But when Gruver suggested a four-day limit on discharging fireworks “like they have in Topeka,” Morris bristled, saying he did not want Holton to be compared to Topeka.
“They’re a larger town than we are,” Morris said.