updated 7:46 PM UTC, Sep 23, 2020

Council discusses proposed fireworks ordinance

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – At its first meeting of the year, the Woodville City Council discussed a proposed ordinance to establish limiting the time period for which fireworks can be used within the city limits.

Mayor Paula Jones said the idea for an ordinance, which would limit fireworks usage inside the city limits for the time periods when fireworks are sold, sprung from noise complaints city offices had received.

Statutorily, fireworks can be used at any time, but only sold at certain times, in Texas. Jones’s proposed ordinance allows for them to be used during the periods for which they are sold, Dec. 20 through Jan. 1 and June 24 through July 4.

When councilmembers began to discuss the impact such an ordinance might have, City Administrator Mandy Risinger said an exception would likely have to be made for Dogwood Festival activities. Councilmember Herb Branch said creating an ordinance pertaining to fireworks use will create more problems than what it is intended to solve.

Branch used the example of individuals purchasing fireworks during periods they are sold in order to celebrate events such as birthdays and anniversaries later on. Currently the City of Woodville does not prohibit the use of fireworks at all within the city limits. Risinger said that typically when a city adopts an ordinance pertaining to fireworks usage, they prohibit both the sale and use.

Woodville Police Chief Mike McCulley said the bulk of calls his department receives about fireworks are noise complaints, and any incidents are up to officers’ discretion to intervene.

“If it could be construed as loud and disturbing to the property owners, then we can ask voluntary compliance from the citizens to stop popping the firecrackers at night,” McCulley said.

Aside from noise complaints of fireworks, the possibility that loud noises resembling fireworks could be firearms is also an issue McCulley addressed.

The proposed ordinance was on Monday night’s agenda for information and discussion purposes. The council took no action on the item.

Updates on grants given
In her regular report to council, Risinger gave some updates on grant applications and ongoing projects. She said the environmental study for work on Cobb Mill Road funded by the 2016 flood grant is done, and the city is awaiting a final comment period, which will be followed by a period of public comment.

The funding from a GLO-funded Hurricane Harvey grant in the amount of $300K has been reviewed. The money will cover generator and sewer line replacements. That funding was allocated through the county in the form of a non-competitive grant.

Risinger also spoke about the coming census, and the importance of participating in the count. The census is conducted every 10 years, and Risinger said that all governmental funding is allocated based on census counts, as well as governmental representation.

“Some people would say ‘I don’t want them knowing where I’m at or who I am,’…but they care whether their road’s paid or if their child gets educated,” Risinger said. “It’s all directly related.”

She added this will be the first census year that allows for an online option to be counted. The snapshot date for census taking is April 1.

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