Fireworks ban, new shelter operating agreement up for vote Thursday

Published 5:44 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Elizabethton City Council will vote this week whether or not to implement a ban on the retail sale and residential discharge of fireworks within the city limits.
An ordinance cleared through the first reading by officials last month, which included an amendment to the fireworks law already on the books that would make it illegal for any person, firm or corporation to possess, manufacture, store, distribute, offer for sale, sell at retail or explode any fireworks within the municipality. Fireworks would still be allowed for certain events, including Fourth of July celebrations, but only by licensed professionals.
Elizabethton’s Fire Marshal has the power to permit the use of fireworks for public or private displays when all necessary provisions are met by Tennessee Code Annotated and the National Fire Protection Association. According to the ordinance, a fine of $50 along with court costs would be issued to those that violate the law.
City resident Susan Peters addressed Council members in August and supported the ordinance’s change, alluding to the fact that the city is one of only five municipalities in the state that still allow the sale and residential discharge of fireworks.
Since 2003, the city has allowed fireworks but limited the sale of fireworks for two periods of the year — June 20 through July 5 and December 10 through January 2.
Councilman Sam Shipley cited different concerns from residential usage, including property damage, fires, bodily injury and individuals with health concerns, like post traumatic stress.
Shipley added that July 5 was a cutoff date but fireworks were still being discharged in the city.
Oversight at the animal shelter could also take a step forward following Thursday’s meeting.
City Councilmen will look at approving both the bylaws of the new Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter Board and a new operating agreement. If approved, the documents will then have to await passage from the Carter County Commission before officially going into effect.
During the past two months, a transitional board comprised of city and county representatives have worked to create a new seven-member board that will serve as sole oversight for the facility, following the recent resignation of Mayor Leon Humphrey.
The new seven-member board, which will effectively nix the current Animal Shelter Advisory Board, would be made up of County Commissioners Sonja Culler, Kelly Collins and Buford Peters, City Councilmen Wes Frazier, Kim Birchfield and Sam Shipley and county resident Mike Barnett.
The new bylaws include “the Animal Shelter Board is solely vested with full authority to govern all aspects of the operation, maintenance and security of the animal shelter, including the grounds, building(s), any and all improvements, fixtures, supplies and equipment.”
Under the proposing operating agreement, both municipalities will revisit the budget at the end of each year to decide funding. Currently, the city funds roughly $100,000 while the county funds over $300,000.
Peters indicated during the recent transition board meeting that the shelter will have a better grasp of what it takes to operate and is expecting to see changes to the budget for the upcoming year.
In other business, City Council will honor different members of the Elizabethton Police Department, honor a longtime city employee and delve into a slew of other items regarding the city. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. inside Council Chambers at City Hall.

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