Horn Lake officials are keeping a watchful eye on the New Year celebration to see how the city’s new fireworks regulations work out.
The city amended its ordinance in November to clarify the dates and times when fireworks could be sold and discharged in the city. Fireworks sales for the New Year holiday were allowed starting on December 20 and ending on January 1, with residents being allowed to discharge them on December 26 through Jan. 1 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve Dec. 31.
Vendors were also required to post the ordinance in their tents and to distribute printed copies of the regulations with each transaction.
The revisions came after a busy July Fourth holiday which saw one home catch on fire and several other smaller incidents requiring the police and fire department to respond.
Ward 4 Alderman Dave Young, who was vocal in his opposition to allowing the continued sales and discharge of fireworks in the city, said this week that he’s already had at least 15 calls from residents complaining about fireworks being shot off after hours.
“Oh I’m already hearing them,” Young said. “You can come and stand in my front yard and hear them going off. I’m telling everyone who calls me about fireworks going off after hours to call the police.”
Still, Young said he is “cautiously optimistic” that residents will comply with the new laws and that New Year’s Eve won’t turn into anything like what they saw on July 4th.
“I hope nothing happens,” Young said. “I hope nobody loses a home or their car or property. But, people are going to do what that want to do. It is what it is. But I guarantee you it’s not the end of the conversation. I promise you.”
Horn Lake is the only city in DeSoto County that allows the discharge of fireworks in the city limits. Southaven and Olive Branch allow for fireworks to be sold, but not discharged.
Ward 3 Alderman Jackie Bostick, who led the effort to ban sales in Horn Lake, said he is taking a wait and see approach.
“They’re not supposed to shoot them off until the 26th,” Bostick said. “But on the 24th and 25th they were out shooting them off until 10 o’clock. That was two days before you were allowed to shoot them off.”
Bostick said he going to leave it up to code enforcement to check on the vendors to make sure that are following the law and on police to ticket people who are shooting fireworks off after the allowable hours.
He remains steadfast though in his opposition to the ordinance which allows fireworks in Horn Lake.
“The police can’t catch everybody just like you can’t catch every speeder,” Bostick said. “Even if we had banned them, we would still have some being shot off. Until some catastrophe happens, it is what it is. I did what the people who voted for me wanted me to do.”
Ward 6 Alderman Robby Dupree said he’s already called the police several times because residents were shooting them off after hours. He also heard reports that one vendor began selling fireworks on January 18 - two days before they were allowed to under the law.
“I’ve heard them during the day and sometimes at 1 or 2 a.m. in the morning,” Dupree said. “But who is going to follow those rules? You can have them plastered around town everywhere. They are not going to follow the rules.”
Dupree said he isn’t against the sales of fireworks, he’s concerned about the safety posed by the larger shells shot from mortars.
“I said in the meetings, if we could get rid of those, I wouldn’t have a problem with regular fireworks,” Dupree said. “But it’s the ones with the one inch and two and a half inch shells that cause the fires. Of course, all of them can. But the higher probability of a house fire is from those big ones. And that’s what I don’t like.”
Police Chief Troy Rowell and Fire Chief David Linville did not return a call seeking comment on whether they had responded to any calls concerning fireworks.
Mayor Allen Latimer said he was unaware of any complaints.
“I asked the chief at our staff meeting if they had received any,” Latimer said. “And I was talking to our building inspector and he said he went by and checked on all the fireworks tents and they seemed to be in compliance with everything.”
Latimer said the New Year holiday is typically a lot quieter than Fourth of July, and believes the potential for wet weather may put a damper on the amount of fireworks being shot off this year.
“I hope people will abide by the rules,” Latimer said. “I am anxious to see how it goes. I know the police are going too make an extra effort to enforce it.”
Alderman-at-Large Danny Klein said he visited one fireworks tent personally, and hasn’t heard any complaints from residents about fireworks.
“No, I haven’t,” Klein said. “It’s been real quiet. But I don’t think we’ll really be able to tell how well this works until after the Fourth of July. New Years is not as big as the Fourth of July as far as fireworks sales according to a vendor I talked to. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed everything goes okay.”
Ward 5 Alderman LaShonda Johnson added that she also has not head of any fireworks complains.
“Hopefully everything will be better than usual,” Johnson said. “But I do support our citizens being able to enjoy fireworks.”