City approves ban of sale, discharging fireworks

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, September 14, 2017

Change is on the horizon when it comes to the use of fireworks in the city limits.
Elizabethton City Council voted Thursday to approve an amendment to a current ordinance on the books, putting a general ban on the retail sale and residential discharge of fireworks in Elizabethton. The motion for the vote was made by Council member Shipley and seconded by Mayor-Pro-Tem Bill Carter. Officials voting in favor of the ordinance were Shipley, Carter, Wes Frazier, Richard Tester, Mayor Curt Alexander and Jeff Treadway. Councilman Kim Birchfield voted against the ordinance.
With the passage, it is now “unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to possess, manufacture, store, distribute, offer for sale, sell at retail, or use or explode any fireworks,” according to the ordinance.
Licensed professionals will see be able to have firework displays at different events, including Fourth of July celebration and other festive get-togethers in the community.
The penalties for violating the ordinance is a $50 fine and “assessment of court costs of $50”.
Residents did make their voices heard during the public comments’ portion of the meeting.
Willie and Bradley McVey of Valley Forge Auction & Whole approached City Council and asked to be grandfathered into the ordinance to continue selling fireworks from their business.
An issue for the duo was the ability to sell fireworks wholesale to businesses and individuals out of the area. Reportedly, according to Willie, 90 percent of the fireworks sold were not city residents.
“We are a permanent dwelling and pay taxes,” Bradley said. The co-owner added he saw the reasoning for the town to place the ordinance, but that the business had a right continue selling fireworks due to them not being illegal.
“It isn’t illegal to have fireworks; it is my right to sell fireworks,” he added.
Alexander thanked the McVeys for continual work in the city, but added that the city has to do “what’s in the best interest for the majority of the community.” Making an exception for one business, the mayor said, would only open up a can of worms down the line.
Shipley stated he’s heard majority support for the ordinance. The reasoning for the ordinance, he added, is due to continual concern for potential property damage and health issues.
Council members also voted to adopt the 2017 edition of the Personnel Rules and Regulations, but with one change.
After months of deliberation and multiple hours put in by the Personnel Advisory Board, a new handbook was created. Danny Hilbert, with the city’s road department, thanked the board for their work but asked for a change to “Good Friday.” In the way it was written in the handbook, employees could take a personal day but the holiday wouldn’t have been recognized. Employee Tony Gouge followed the sentiments of Hilbert.
Following discussions and realizing Good Friday is recognized as a state holiday, Council voted unanimously to have it written in the book that Good Friday would be observed and eliminated the personal day.

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