July 4th: Red, white and quiet
Except for Friday night in Rockdale.
County commissioners, on a 3-2 vote Monday, banned the sale and use of all fireworks within the county, except for Friday’s display at Fair Park, sponsored by Citizens National Bank.
On June 13, commissioners had enacted a limited ban covering “fireworks with fins and sticks.” This one covers “all kinds of pyrotechnical devices.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Dale Jaecks of Rockdale cast one of the two dissenting votes, along with Precinct 4 Commissioner Jeff Muegge.
“I’m not saying we’re right and the judge and two commissioners are wrong,” Jaecks said. “I just believe if we were going to do this we should have done it two weeks ago.”
BUSINESSMAN—Jaecks said he felt the total ban, following the partial ban, wasn’t fair to fireworks sales people.
“After we made the ‘fins and sticks’ decision two weeks ago, a lot of them went out and bought their inventory for July 4th,” Jaecks said.
“I’m a businessman. I know how tough business can be,” he said.
Some fireworks business owners, including Jerry McPeek of Rockdale, attended the meeting.
McPeek said he was one of the “lucky” dealers who had not ordered his fireworks inventory after the decision two weeks ago and will be able to cancel his order in time.
He disagreed with the commissioners’ decision noting “most fires start in the kitchen and they are not banning cooking.”
FIRE CHIEFS—Momentum for commissioners to re-visit the issue grew after the Milam County Fire Chiefs Association unanimously asked the county to enact a total ban.
That recommendation was passed on to Barkemeyer by Henry Horelica, Cameron Fire Chief and president of the Fire Chiefs Association.
Barkemeyer placed the item on Monday’s agenda.
More than half of Texas’s 254 counties have now enacted total fireworks bans due to extreme drouth conditions.
State climatologists have termed this year’s drouth the third worst in history, behind 1918 and 1956.
‘GOOD TO GO’—The Friday night display is still on, according to Bob Wilson, Rockdale branch manager of Citizens National Bank.
“After Monday’s vote we made a lot of inquiries, checking and double-checking everything and we’re good to go,” he said.
“I know there are people who are still concerned but we believe everything has been taken care of,” he said.
“ Th is is a profe ssiona l lydone show and we will have the Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department standing by,” he said.
Wilson said the display will begin “about dark, probably 9 p.m. or a little later.”
Citizens National Bank alternates the yearly Fourth of July fireworks displays between Rockdale and Cameron.
The spectacle is visible from much of Rockdale and annually draws many “back yard” gatherings and a Fair Park crowd in the thousands.
CITY BAN—The county ban targets rural areas.
Rockdale has a permanent ban on the use of fireworks within the Rockdale city limits.