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Lodi City Council considers fireworks sales

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Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 5:54 am, Wed Mar 2, 2011.

Residents might be able to set off fireworks during an upcoming Fourth of July if the Lodi City Council decides to allow the sale and use of state-approved fireworks.

Stockton lifted its ban in May of last year and started allowing nonprofits to sell fireworks. Then TNT Fireworks, a private company, asked Lodi several months ago to review its ban, Lodi Fire Chief Kevin Donnelly said.

Currently, fireworks that produce a spark or flame are outlawed in Lodi. This leaves only novelty items like caps or party poppers, Donnelly said.

There are several companies interested in selling fireworks in Lodi, and they have been talking with nonprofits about how they can use it as a fundraiser.

The council will take up the issue at its 7 a.m. shirtsleeve meeting today at Carnegie Forum, 305 W. Pine St.

If the council wants to sell fireworks, it will have to decide how many stands it will allow, who can sell and how the city will pay for the additional permitting and inspection work, Donnelly said.

In Galt, firework sales is the main fundraiser for many nonprofit groups, Mayor Barbara Payne said. Only seven organizations can sell them each year. The city keeps a list of interested nonprofits and then rotates them every year, she said.

State law requires Galt to permit and inspect the booths, which are located in the Burger King parking lot across from City Hall. Payne said it is a safe way to sell the fireworks.

"It's given the nonprofits a way to make money, so that's good, especially during this economy," she said.

Often the nonprofits team up to work the booths and then split the profits, so they can sell almost every year, Payne said.

The Galt Area Historical Society usually partners with the Friends of the Library, and has sold fireworks for at least 15 years, said Genie Olson, the society's founder.

The nonprofit usually brings in $7,000 a year from the sales, which goes to restoration work around the community and maintaining two pioneer cemeteries and McFarland Living History Ranch.

"All of the money coming in has a big opportunity to be used for good things for the community," she said.

The nonprofits receive the fireworks from private companies, and then give them a percentage of the profit. It is a fairly easy fundraiser, Olson said, but they do have to find people willing to stand out in the summer heat.

California allows firework sales to begin at noon on June 28 and continue through noon on July 6.

In California, 282 cities and counties allow the sale of fireworks, according to the California Fireworks Newswire.

In 2008, a state law passed allowing local governments to collect fees on firework sales to pay for education and enforcement for the safe use of state-approved fireworks. This inspired more local agencies to legalize them, Donnelly said.

He said this has also put a greater focus on illegal fireworks in the state.

"All fireworks are a problem, but the ones not sanctioned by the state are an even bigger problem," Donnelly said.

To sell fireworks, Lodi would have to put together regulations, have someone process the permits, inspect the firework booths and manage the program.

The city only has one clerk in the Fire Department Prevention Bureau because of budget reductions, so the city would need more staff time to organize a way to sell the fireworks, Donnelly said.

While the tax on fireworks may pay for some staff time, he said the city will probably have to identify some money to chip in. He said it would be even more difficult and more expensive if the council wanted a program in place for this Fourth of July. Aside from staffing costs, he also said there is a danger that more emergency personnel will need to respond because of accidents around the Fourth of July.

"There certainly is a fire and injury risk. They need to be used properly, and that's an education process," he said.

There is at least one Lodi nonprofit that will not be selling fireworks if the ban is lifted.

Lodi House executive director Suzanne Mangum said putting together a booth is hard work for not that much of a return. Also, selling fireworks does not fit with her organization's message.

"Fireworks are only as safe as the people using them, and our whole thing is about providing safety for children," Mangum said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com or read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/city_buzz.

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  • Kevin Paglia posted at 3:35 pm on Tue, Mar 1, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1881

    Nothing celebrates the birth of our country like blowing a small par of it up. (to paraphrase the Simpsons). I miss block gatherings with every family contributing a few fireworks so everyone has a big show.

  • Robert Molle posted at 9:23 am on Tue, Mar 1, 2011.

    Robert Molle Posts: 42

    Stop making excuses and get it done Lodi!!! It's our nations birthday!!!

  • Brian Dockter posted at 6:52 am on Tue, Mar 1, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2744

    It's not like people haven't been setting off fireworks all this time. The city of Lodi
    needs to realize this and just lift the ban so people don't have to sneak around anymore
    to light off fireworks.



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