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Ellis County bans fireworks

6/18/2013

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The Ellis County Commission has joined the rest of the county and banned the sale and discharge of fireworks in rural areas during the Fourth of July holiday period.

In Monday's regular meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse, the commission rescinded an earlier resolution -- passed by a 2-1 vote last month -- to allow the sale of fireworks in rural areas of Ellis County. At that May 21 meeting, commissioners authorized Ellis County Rural Fire Chief Dick Klaus to make the decision whether to allow the discharge of fireworks. Klaus, who also was to provide an alternate date if he were to ban fireworks during the holiday period, said Friday he would not make a decision, which by default would not allow the use of fireworks.

A resolution passed last summer forced a decision to be made, one way or the other, said Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund.

"I think it should be our decision, Dick," said Barbara Wasinger, the commissioner who voted against last month's resolution to allow the sale of fireworks.

Ellis County Commission Chairman Dean Haselhorst and Commissioner Swede Holmgren, who both favored the sale of fireworks at last month's meeting, came out against them Monday.

"I know I was in favor of selling them in the county early on; I'm going to rescind that," Haselhorst said. "I'm not in favor of that."

Haselhorst and Holmgren both cited safety concerns, due to the hot, dry conditions that exist in the county.

"We have to think beyond the moment," Holmgren said. "Fourth of July is our country's independence, and it is a hoorah celebration. But we have to think of the consequences of what we're doing."

Commissioners voted 3-0 to ban both the sale and discharge of fireworks in rural areas of the county during the holiday period. They joined the cities of Hays, Ellis, Schoenchen and Victoria, which also have banned the sale and use.

In other business:

* Commissioners heard budget requests from Access transportation ($94,241, up from $70,000 in 2013); Humane Society of the High Plains ($5,000, same as 2013); Hays Area Children's Center ($154,000, up $10,00 from 2013); and Ellis Free Fair ($4,000, same as 2013).

* Acting as the Public Building Commission, commissioners passed resolutions adopting tax security compliance procedures and authorization of sale of bonds for county remodeling projects.

* Commissioners received a monthly Extension report and monthly health report.

* Commissioners tabled until the July 8 meeting appointments for three openings on the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission.

* Commissioners discussed a report submitted on the final cost of the tire amnesty program. More than 300 tons of tires were taken in, at a cost of more than $28,000.

* Commissioners approved a resolution for appointment of Dean Denning as county appraiser.

* Commissioners approved an agreement with Treanor Architects for design of courthouse project.

* Commissioners received a monthly financial report.

* Commissioners approved a proposed policy for county employee time calculations standards.

* Commissioners approved an amendment to union contracts.

* Commissioners gave approval for Sund to write a letter to the state requesting an exemption for the concealed carry law, which goes into effect July 1. The exemption gives the county six months to put in place security measures at the courthouse.