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Retailers, customers excited





Kearsten Koerner didn't want to talk about the struggle -- the struggle with Hays city commissioners regarding the recent fireworks ban.

In a special meeting Monday, city commissioners voted to lift the ban due to the amount of rain received in recent weeks.

"I'm just really happy they let us open," said Koerner, owner of Discount Fireworks in Hays. "Was it hard? Yes. But I'm not going to complain one bit."

Fireworks were banned twice in the last few months due to the drought, so Koerner doubted opening the stand.

"I was really worried," she said. "I didn't think we were going to open. They had the initial meeting, banned them. They had another meeting and banned them again. Next we knew, they were calling a special meeting."

Following the announcement of the special meeting, Koerner and her husband, Mike, anticipated the possibilities.

"We tried calling warehouses," he said. "Most were empty because all fireworks stands from all over the state were buying them."

The order was placed immediately following the special meeting.

"It was hard to get inventory at such a late notice," Mike Koerner said. "But we were able to find a place that allowed us to do it. We made a few phone calls, found inventory and a location to put our fireworks."

Ken Windholz, owner of Discount Fireworks in Gorham, drove to the vender in Ellinwood the night the ban was lifted to pick out fireworks. The fireworks were delivered the next day.

Despite the recent two-year ban, Discount Fireworks in Hays has been open for 10 years.

"We always say we'll never do it again," Kearsten Koerner said. "But then we do. The kids are really excited. Even the adults are excited."

Mike Koerner said several children were waiting for him to open the doors Wednesday morning.

"The fire department wouldn't let us sell until we posted a sign with the city ordinance," he said. "But, after the sign was posted, it's been a lot of little kids emptying their piggy banks of all their change."

Adalie Kippes, 5, Victoria, is excited for her first real Fourth of July experience.

"She's grabbing everything in sight," said Bridgett Kippes, her mother. "She doesn't know much about the Fourth of July. That stinks she hasn't been able to experience shooting off fireworks. But I'm more worried about the drought than not being able to shoot off fireworks."

Kynlie Ubert, 4, remembers loving her only experience with fireworks.

"We went out of town last year and shot them off," said Kayla Swob, her mother. "She loves them. I was really excited when the city said they were going to allow fireworks."

Carter Schmidt, 10, Swob's son, also was able to leave town last year for the Fourth of July. He's looking forward to setting off fireworks in town.

"I'm very excited," he said. "I like blowing stuff up."