July 4th Holiday, More Drinking, Less Fireworking

Click a picture to see it full siize – Photos by Russ Baldwin

Most area residents apparently took notice of the holiday fireworks ban in Lamar and Prowers County. Due to on-going drought conditions, communities in Prowers and Bent County banned several types of fireworks during the holidays. Any type of firework such as regular firecrackers, bottle rockets or roman candles were banned from use, while cones, fountains and smoke devices were allowed.

The public’s adherence to the ban contributed to fewer local fire calls and parking lot clean up once the smoke cleared, literally. Prowers County Sheriff Jim Faull said limited sales of fireworks probably contributed to less mess and fewer home-grown displays Monday night. Overall, Sheriff Faull said, “The night went really, really well compared to past years.” He said he was on patrol last night, and although some people never get the message, the number of problems with banned fireworks was down. He did note that some portions of parking areas were still messy with wrapping papers and debris as some people just drove away leaving their mess.

Hans Fredricks, Prowers County Operations Manager, stated that he had cleaning crews out to the fairgrounds early Tuesday morning, and they too, reported that the amount of trash had diminished compared to previous years. In late June, the Prowers County Commissioners addressed the trash problem along with the fireworks ban, declaring that there would be increased sheriff department patrols and a more visible presence during the display. Last year they estimated the clean-up cost of the fairgrounds at around $1,000.

Lamar Fire Chief Marshall Cook said his department did not respond to any firework related fires during the holiday period, but he did note some illegal displays occurring in some neighborhoods. Cook said the smallest round used in the municipal display is about three inches, but he estimated there were some neighborhoods using at least a two-incher. Regarding firework collections and donations, Cook said the Lamar Prowers County Volunteer Fire Department handles those duties, but it was his understanding that about $2,000 was collected in the final week, while the annual fund is still short $1,500 for the annual purchase. Cook said some pledges are still out and the Lamar Library ‘fines for fireworks’ donations are being tabulated.

Gary McCrea, Lamar Police Chief, said the holiday period was a busy one for his department, with 174 calls for service generated from midnight on July 1st to 6am Tuesday, July 5. “Alcohol was our big problem,” he said. “We only had 11 fireworks calls and wrote only one citation for tossing fireworks out of a moving vehicle,” McCrea stated. “It was a busier than normal weekend, and we had to deal with several DUI’s and alcohol related issues, and responded to 32 calls just since midnight Tuesday,” he added. Overall, McCrea said fireworks were not that much of a problem this year.

By Russ Baldwin

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