Fireworks ban is the wrong call

On June 19, the Hays City Commission again exercised their power of community control to deny the citizens of Hays to celebrate Independence Day in the traditional sense.

email2 - letter

Again, dry conditions were cited as a compelling reason. This approach has become shop-worn to the point of being transparent. There are politics at play here that very few, including me, are aware. Ellis County is not under dry conditions now, or in any way for the next month that encompasses Independence day.

The company I work for, Taz’s Fireworks, has been a mainstay in fireworks sales in Hays for decades. We are a local company based in Hill City, and every year, except for the last two, we have written a large check for sales taxes collected in Ellis County and the city of Hays.

The fireworks industry records more sales in a month than many businesses do in a year. This fact does not have any effect on the decisions of the Ellis County commissioners, or Hays City Commission, although sales tax revenue should be their concern.

It makes me wonder if some sort of vendetta has been lodged against us by these local stewards of the public trust. For years, we have conducted pyrotechnic shows at RPM Speedway during racing events. Due to the firework ban, we have been denied permits to bring these crowd-pleasing shows to the speedway. On the other side of the issue comes an approved permit for another company to conduct a fireworks show at the Wild West Fest.

If a fireworks ban is in place that includes professional fireworks entertainment should that not include the Wild West Show? There are interests that are receiving special treatment from the commissioners and council? What sort on compensation are the council receiving for approving this permit? Is this sort of discrimination acceptable to the citizens of the Hays community?

I hear from many in the public about being unhappy about being denied the ability to celebrate Independence Day in the way that has been our tradition for 200 years. Maybe the holiday would be better served to be renamed “Burger and Brat Day” so we’ll all forget about what this country endured to win its freedom from oppression. Maybe then, we’ll be complacent about other laws passed “in the public interest” by officials who pander to a small minority of special interests.

I would invite the citizens of Ellis County to get loud and let your elected representatives know how you feel about this affront to our public celebration. If you are unable to sway your lawmakers, I would like to invite all of the freedom loving residents of Ellis County to come visit us in Hill City. Graham County will welcome you with open arms.

While you are here maybe you can spend some time to spend a little time and money with our local merchants. We celebrate our heritage  robustly, with lots of firecrackers, and night-works, and of course a great fireworks show on Independence Day!

The views expressed in this letter are my own and are not influenced by any outside sources.

Curtis Montague
Hill City

  • redhed

    Southern Ellis county, especially the Schoechen area, has only received 3 inches since the beginning of June. Now northern Ellis county has received 12+ inches of rain since the beginning of the month. It’s still bone dry out here.

  • guest

    maybe we should rename it “fireworks day”?
    while i do agree that if a company is allowed to put on shows for WWF, then your company should be able to as well, i do not think private purchase for personal use is a reasonable agreement as of yet, as the local aquifers are still very low. a large fire could put a considerable dent in an already depleted well.

    • guest1

      I agree, I think if there are professionals putting on a show, they should not deny that permit to other professionals/organizations. Although accidents can still happen, a professional group putting on a fireworks show in a single location has a lesser chance of a fire. I am fully on board for the rest of the ban for the fireworks for this year though.

    • Yahooserious

      Weren’t those mostly arson though? They ever catch that a**hole?

      • A_citizen_patriot

        If they had you would have seen all the people line up to kick his a$$

    • A_citizen_patriot

      We have received lots of rain since the arson fires.

    • ZERO

      Company #6 out of Ellis has had exactly ZERO fires in the last two months…..just so you know!

  • Politics at Work

    If the powers that be want a ban on fireworks, it should be a complete ban on fireworks. It appears that politics indeed is at work to allow one entity (WWF) to have fireworks and another who cannot (Speedway). Since the fireworks ban has been in place, our family has chosen to leave Ellis County and go elsewhere to celebrate the Fourth of July. It would be interesting to see whether or not there has been a decline in sales tax revenue in July since the ban has been put in place. Not only the lack of fireworks sales but also lost revenue for those folks that choose to travel elsewhere to celebrate the long-time tradition of fireworks as part of the Fourth of July festivities which may affect a sales tax revenue decline.

    • alexander

      How much sales tax revenue = 1 human life?

      • A_citizen_patriot

        Yet all the sales tax from weed is worth a human life, since there is now more impaired drivers on the roads in Colorado then in previous years.

        • likeyoureallyneedtoknow

          Oh ya lets bring weed into the conversation when we are talking about fireworks. Makes total since. You know how many lifes that’s actually saving in colorado? No you probably don’t cause you are a close minded person.

          • A_citizen_patriot

            I love how you make assumptions that im closed mined when you have no clue who I am. I am a supporter of medical marijuana. My point was he was saying that no tax amount is worth a human life. But then argues on different posts that if Kansas would legalize weed we would make all that tax revenue. Sorry you didn’t get my point.

        • alexander

          Another classic Citizen Pat Colorado-Marijuana distraction tactic.

          I’m not willing to wager the lives of our brave Hays firefighters based on anything less than a logical argument. Try again?

          • A_citizen_patriot

            Last time fireworks were legal how many fires were there?

          • alexander

            I’m not your secretary.

          • A_citizen_patriot

            So you don’t like to back up your statements?

          • alexander


            “During the week of the July 4th celebrations in 2012, there were 197 reported fireworks-related injuries in Kansas.

            Damage to personal and commercial property is another hazard of shooting fireworks. In 2011, there were 26 structure fires, 10 vehicle fires and 199 miscellaneous fires directly related to fireworks from around the state between May 1 and August 31. The total property loss
            from these fires was $408,125.”


          • A_citizen_patriot

            Ok let me rephrase, how many fires were there in ellis county?

          • alexander

            Why don’t you pick up a copy of the July 6, 2006 Hays Daily News?

            Maybe one dead 4 year old every 8 years is ‘worth it’ to you?

            Acceptable collateral damage, you would say?

            Good for the harvest?

          • Common sense

            So maybe we should not allow swimming at pools and lakes or even baths inside a house? Every year, just in Kansas alone, numerous kids and adults drown. You can’t prevent every single death and injury. Fireworks, for the most part, are safe for all.

          • A_citizen_patriot

            It wasn’t a distraction tactic. I was pointing out the hypocritical nature of your mind.

          • alexander

            I’d argue that the tax revenue Ellis County collects from Taz fireworks is hardly comparable to the tax revenue the State of Colorado collects on marijuana sales.

            And endangers roughly the same number of lives.

            I can live with that hypocrisy. And so can our brave firefighters.

          • A_citizen_patriot

            Your right comparing county tax collection to state tax collection would be stupid. But since your avoiding answering the original post about how many lives are worth the tax revenue, I will assume you are using a “distraction tactic”

          • alexander

            “But since your avoiding answering the original post about how many lives are worth the tax revenue,”

            I am the one who asked that question. You are the one avoiding answering.

        • Huh?

          Do you have actual numbers to back that up? Or are you just making stuff up again?

    • Informed

      WWF fireworks show-city controlled

      Speeedway fireworks- county controlled
      You people are talking about two seperate governing bodies.

  • Rocket Science

    I bet he would feel diffrent if he was a fire fighter.

    • tillycat14

      Yea, it’s crazy to me that people in this city are willing to risk our firefighters lives “just so the kids can have some fun.” And the argument that there hasn’t been any fires from personal fireworks – well, could be true, but I’m not willing to bet my home that there never will be.

      • Don’t rain on my parade

        Maybe we should ban all outdoor fire chimneys, all inside fireplaces, all outdoor gas&charcoal grills, and all outdoor smoking. Because we don’t want to risk our firefighters lives or your house. Since we don’t want ‘some kids to have fun’, we should also ban parks due to injuries, bicycle riding, and all rec sports. As you said, just because there hasn’t been any fires from personal fireworks in Hays doesn’t carry any value with you.

    • Fireman

      I am a Fireman, I can honestly say I don’t really care what they do, If my pager goes off and I am available I will go on the call…….its just what we do!

  • Obama is at fault here.

    Thanks again Obama.

  • Deceptive city

    I do wonder sometimes with the cities logic. Remember years and years ago when they asked us to conserve water for the future of Hays. About 2 years after that, they said water use was at a all time low (thus city revenue was low) so they upped our water bills to compensate. Geez…..thanks for the pat on the back. Now, they have been banning fireworks in the city of Hays due to dry conditions reason which was ok to use for past years. Lots of rain the last few weeks (I think about 7″ for the month) and they still have them banned! Is it now to wet out to allow them?

  • Tradition

    Whether to allow fireworks in the city or not can be debated by all. And I can understand one permit being given and the other not upsetting some. My guess would be one permit was for an individual (non certified or professional) to shoot them off at an event with no firetrucks present where as the Wild West Fest is done by several professionals in a very regulated environment and has a lot of backup with multiple firetrucks on site. Anyway, I just wish people would quit saying to ban Wild West Fest from doing this if we can’t do it and trying to just end all fun for everyone. It’s like someone saying if I can’t drink soda due to my diet, then I don’t want anyone to have soda. At least let the kids in Hays that can’t do fireworks enjoy the great yearly show they put on. It is a family event for us and for that hour, has all of us together relaxing and spending time together.

  • Law abiding citizen

    So the sale, possession, and discharge of fireworks in the city of Hays and in Ellis County is illegal, yet a commissioner brought fireworks he owns with him to the meeting to show the public?

    • jessie guest

      only sale and discharge is illegal

  • tillycat14

    There definitely is a big difference between a professional show and personal firworks. I think many in this town are very short sighted. I’m a Hays native, and it seems we’be been in a drought, more or less for the entirety of my life (except in 93). The fact is that we live in an area prone to drought and wind. And because many people don’t care about anything other their own pleasure, they think nothing of the situation. They don’t care if their use of fireworks starts a fire. They don’t care if they damage someone else’s property. They don’t care if they use valuable city and county resources to put out those fires.
    A few inches of rain doesn’t end a drought years in the making. It doesn’t make it safe to play with fire (literally).
    I’m sorry the writer of this post feels singled out. If you want to do the Wild West FeSt fireworks, Did You Petition The Committee OR Submit A bid? I agree with others that the professional show at least has the city prepared with fire trucks and water. It’s a calculated risk.

    Many may think it is their right to shoot of fireworks, but it is my and every other citizens right not to have our property damaged and our tax dollars wasted when something goes wrong.

    • Reality

      Guns cause damage. Alcohol causes damage. Fatty foods cause health issues. Vehicles cause damage. Internet sites can corrupt our youth. Violent video games can twist our sense of right and wrong. Books can spread mis truths or hearsay. We can’t eliminate everything that causes damage or is against someones personal views or the world would be no fun. How many fires in the city of Hays do we have on average directly due to fireworks? I don’t know, but my guess is everyone is making the danger out to be way more dramatic than it is in reality. We had more rain in the last 2 weeks than I remember in a long time. I’ve mowed my yard twice in the last week. And people are in a uproar about some blackcats starting a 20 mile forest fire and burning down 3 square city blocks. The sky is not falling people. Let the kids have a little fun and celebrate.

      • tillycat14

        I don’t expect to be able to eliminate everything bad… but this is mentality I speak of…. so what if you’ve had to mow your growing grass?? The fact of the matter is that if a stray spark causes fire, it affects everyone in a negative manner. So it is asinine for the the ban to lifted because people what to cry in their beer over it. Grow up. I like doing my own fireworks as much as the next person, but I’m not an irresponsible citizen.

        • Reality

          Maybe it is you who should grow up. If you allow groundworks only, like they have in years past, along with all the rain we’ve had lately, I seriously doubt you will have any problems. Shooting off fireworks on the 4th is not that act of ‘an irresponsible citizen’. More people die in a day from vehicles than fireworks. More people and property are harmed in any given day from vehicles than from fireworks. But you don’t say ‘ban vehicles’ or that vehicle drivers are all ‘irresponsible’.

          • guest1

            The problem is that people hear they can shoot off fireworks. They do not hear the restrictions on the kinds. They will buy what they want and shoot what they want, not just the groundworks that you think should be ok.

          • FHSU grad

            In years past, they have restricted aerial works in Hays. All vendors selling in Hays were also restricted on what they can sell. Your argument doesn’t hold water. That’s like saying because someone hears the sounds of guns going off during pheasant season, that he thinks he can shoot pheasants with any gun he can find and anywhere he wants. If you hunt pheasants or shoot off fireworks, you are going to know what is allowed. If you are going to break the law, then no ban is going to stop you.

          • guest1

            “Shoot them where you buy them” – yes. If you don’t think people will buy something bigger and better the next county over (or town, or out of state if they are traveling) and shoot them off here the first chance they get, you are sorely mistaken.

    • A_citizen_patriot

      No we are not out of the drought. But we have had (give or take) 9 inches of rain. Which is enough to green up the grass.

  • Wondering

    Looks like more rain again tonight! We better still hold off though on allowing fireworks because I have one dead shrub in my backyard and I’m waiting for a few more inches of rain to maybe bring it back from the dead so there would be no way it could ever possibly catch fire from a stray firework. I know you said if we get some rain, that you’ll seriously consider allowing fireworks, but 9″ in the last 2 weeks may not be enough in your mind. I’m guessing you meant if we get 23″ in 7 days, than that would be adequate.