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Nonprofits raise big cash with fireworks sales

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Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 9:51 am, Wed Jul 6, 2011.

While final totals are not yet in from fireworks sales, a majority of the six nonprofit leaders who took part said they are pleased with the money their organizations raised this weekend.

The sales this weekend marked the first time Lodi residents could buy state-approved fireworks within the city limits. The city used a lottery system to select six nonprofits from 47 applicants to sell fireworks.

TNT Fireworks, a wholesale distributor that supplied the fireworks to city vendors, is still working on the returns and will not know how much Lodi's organizations earned until later this week.

The Pregnancy Resource Center raised roughly $68,000 over the past week at their booth on Kettleman Lane, executive director Paula Leary said.

During the six days the nonprofits could sell, Leary ordered five separate shipments of fireworks because of their popularity with Lodi residents, young and old.

"We sold out of so much, from sparklers to the Pyro Palooza, the firework that had the maximum amount of firepower allowed by law," she said. "We still had some stuff left Monday, but we definitely went through a lot of fireworks."

The Lodi-Tokay Rotary booth raked in between $27,000 and $30,000 in the Walmart parking lot on Kettleman Lane, president Mark Hamilton said. The booth often had customers standing in line wanting to purchase more fireworks when they closed the stand at 9 p.m.

Hamilton said a majority of the crowds at his stand on Saturday, Sunday and Monday wanted everything from sparklers to a firework dubbed Delirium. When customers did not know how fireworks performed, Hamilton would whip out his iPhone and pull up YouTube to show them how certain fireworks looked when they were lit.

Because of the fireworks sales, the city of Lodi was able to conduct extra enforcement on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday for the first time in years. One police officer and one firefighter were assigned to a car, and they responded to complaints of illegal fireworks.

Parks employees also patrolled Lodi's recreation areas to make sure the legal, state-approved fireworks were being used correctly.

When the Lodi City Council approved the ordinance allowing the sale and use of fireworks earlier this year, they required the nonprofits to pay for the city to inspect the stands to make sure they were compliant with the law.

The city also added another fee to pay for the staff time for additional patrols. The city is still adding up the bill and the nonprofits will have to pay for the actual cost of the employees' time, not to exceed $20,000, City Attorney Steve Schwabauer said.

"The only fee we charge is for the actual costs. We are not making money on the backs of those charities," he said.

TNT Fireworks then added up the estimated costs versus the estimated sales and required the nonprofits to set aside 7 percent of their sales to go toward the fee, said Dennis Revell, president and CEO of Revell Communications. The public relations company is representing TNT Fireworks, a large wholesale distributor.

At least one nonprofit leader was upset with the fee and their selling efforts this weekend.

Tony Amador, who organized the Lodi Mexican-American Lions Club booth on Cherokee Lane near Kmart, said he found out about the fee at the "eleventh hour."

"I think slapping on a surcharge was ill-advised and bad management," he said. "It soured everyone's mouth and, honestly, was embarrassing."

Contact reporters Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com or Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com.

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  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:12 am on Thu, Jul 7, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4310

    I'm truly surprised at the huge difference between the amounts two entities raised - PRC $68K and Lodi-Tokay Rotary (only) $30K.

    With Planned Parenthood under attack nationwide, and necessary health services for women being cut, I'm pleased that PRC is providing services that would possibly be cut otherwise, but PRC's decidedly anti-abortion slant certainly makes it less likely to be a victim of these cuts and more likely to be supported by the citizens of Lodi (given the number of out-of-wedlock births in this town).

    I suppose we should be grateful (and I am) that dedicated people are making these services available, whether pro-choice or pro-life.

  • Jackson Scott posted at 10:29 pm on Wed, Jul 6, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    Only one group of six is complaining about the approx $20K fee? So the Lodi-Tokay Rotary would pay $2,100 on profits of $30K? Drop in the bucket for the opportunity to raise these big bucks in such a short time frame.

    Doug, for once I have to agree with you 110%!!! How the DLBP got to even be considered for this is a crock of horse hooey! They get taxpayer money from the City Council... which I think is also horse hooey! Perhaps you should contact City Attny Schwabauer with your concerns.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:54 pm on Wed, Jul 6, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Ms. Bobin, maybe that was another overtime assignment? And the Downtown Lodi Business Partnership even being allowed to participate in the firework lottery is a sham. Aren't they already funded by the city and us taxpayers? And such a miracle they were drawn for the first year. I hope that additional windfall will allow the Farmers' Market to continue through September like it always has, rather than see those additional revenues go to the director as bonus cash added to her salary. Maybe some family events without booze could be created for those Lodians with children who are saddled with alcohol laden events from this dysfunctional group that can't even account for its past wasteful and sometimes corrupted financial escapades.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 5:03 pm on Wed, Jul 6, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4310

    Another creative way to get taxpayers to pay for the regular and "extra" police and fire services that were partially necessitated by the passage of this ordinance.

    Shameful example of the underhandedness of our CC.



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