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Changes in Fireworks Law Topic of Discussion

June 15, 2017
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

Discussion of the new fireworks law was an important topic during the regular meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 13.

"I took a look at the State Code," Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes began. "There is still a provision in the Code that deals with display fireworks. Display fireworks are typically the large fireworks used in shows and will still need approval by the Board of Supervisors if it's out in the County."

"And that is still in the state law?" Supervisor Chairman Keith Wirtz asked.

According to Schultes, the new Iowa Fireworks Law deals with novelty fireworks, which are classified as "first class consumer fireworks," "second class consumer fireworks," ground and handheld sparkling devices and toy smoke, wire or dipped sparklers that are not classified as novelties.

The types of fireworks listed above can only be used June 1 through July 8 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and December 10 through January 3 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The exception is around the Fourth of July hours are extended to 11 p.m. and on New Years, when the hours are extended until 12:30 a.m.

"So if someone would want to put on a fireworks display at Lost Island, as an example, they would have to fill out an application," Schultes said.

"The law change I don't think is a huge issue allowing these other additional fireworks," Schultes continued. "However, the problem you run into is if you are going to allow these, now they are going to want to shoot these off (referring to display fireworks). I have no issue with the law the way it is written and if people want to shoot off the display fireworks then they have to apply."

"This is one thing that I am very liberal about," Supervisor Linus Solberg stated. "I think that we need to catch up with Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. If we run into a problem down the road, then we need to address it. But everybody else has got them and they are getting along just perfect."

"Last year you said (referring to Schultes) that we could look the other way unless they abuse it and I think we need to go with the original intend of the legislature and the original intent was to catch up with Nebraska and with those other states. That's my personal opinion," Solberg continued.

"Isn't most of it on the sale side?" Supervisor Craig Merrill asked.

"That's right," Schultes replied. "The law added a few more things and specifies times with which those items can be used."

"That was the whole thing that come up with the person who called me," Supervisor Ron Graettinger commented. "He didn't think they should be setting them off past 10:30 or 11 at night and I agree with him."

"If you do approve the use of fireworks within the county, since some cities have said no fireworks at all, if you could give a one or two mile buffer around the communities," David Kirk, Ruthven Mayor added.

With some further discussion it was decided that no ordinance would be looked at this year and law enforcement would not being issuing citations unless someone is abusing the use of fireworks.

In other business, Ruthven Mayor David Kirk requested compensation from the county for the maintenance of veteran's graves. Currently, the City of Ruthven is taking care of the graves.

"The people in our area expect a pristine cemetery and it cost about $18 per year to take care of a grave," Kirk explained. "Currently, there are 304 veterans in the Ruthven Cemetery."

With further discussion, the item was tabled, with Kirk looking into other possible funding areas.

Kirk also brought up the issue of Old Hwy 18. He proposed that if the County would pay the total amount for the resurfacing of the road, the City of Ruthven would take over the maintenance of West St. and the county's portion of Washington St. This issue was also tabled until the Palo Alto County Engineer would attend a Supervisor's meeting at a date to be determined.



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