A Gardner citizen appeared at the July 5 city council meeting to describe her experience with fireworks this past July. She said she had made phone calls to all city council members to voice her concerns and one was “disrespectful.” Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The topic of fireworks was not on the meeting agenda, but it was brought up in the public comments portion of the meeting. Two residents came to thank council for lifting the fireworks ban. Two others, and a former mayor, voiced concerns with it.
The first citizen to speak identified himself as a past member of the planning commission and former president of the Jaycees, who helped start the city’s public fireworks display in the beginning.
He reported that this past weekend he had been subject to “professional shooters” that were “shooting on USD 231 property without permit, insurance or permission.”
He continued, “I hope  council is prepared for the joint liabilities that can happen now. That wasn’t in your discussions, so I don’t know.”
Later in the meeting, James Pruetting, police chief, confirmed that evidence of class B fireworks use had been found at Sunflower school.
Another citizen who appeared said she had contacted all five city council members by phone earlier in the day to tell them about her negative experiences over the recent holiday.  She said people were shooting fireworks in the streets and debris had to be cleaned from her yard, swimming pool and everything outside.
She said that when she contacted council members by phone, one was not polite.
“It was Rich Melton that was very disrespectful on our phone call,”she said.
Melton replied, “It was me. I admit it. I don’t think that surprises anybody up here.”
After public comments,  the meeting returned to agenda items but fireworks were again briefly discussed in council updates at the end of the meeting.
Todd Winters, council vice-president said, “I would like to revisit this at some point prior to next year. I think there’s some suggestions, maybe to help compromise, you know, people that want to shoot, that don’t want to shoot. At some point between now and then let’s get together and hash that out again.”
Chris Morrow, mayor, shared an e-mail he received from Carol Lehman, who served as Gardner mayor for 20 years.
“I am respectfully asking you to revisit the ordinance allowing fireworks within the city of Gardner,” the e-mail began.
“When Carol Lehman speaks, I listen,” said Morrow.