Thursday, September 16, 2021

Dennis Dickinson: Warren County should end sale of fireworks

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson wants to revisit the question of consumer fireworks sales in Warren County. Those are the so-called “sparklers” sold around the Fourth of July for private use, typically under tents by traveling vendors.

Mr. Dickinson is on the agenda of the County Governmental Operations & Advocacy meeting — Monday, July 19, at noon.

In New York State, “Sparkling Devices” are defined as “ground based or handheld devices that produce a shower of colored sparks and or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke.”

Further, says the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, “these devices must be hand held or mounted on a base or spike and be limited in sizes that range from 1 to 500 grams of pyrotechnic composition.”

However, Mr. Dickinson contends, “Whatever they sell in those tents, I am against. I don’t know what they are but they have a large number of displays, more than just sparklers.”

Individual counties have the right to opt out of the state law.

About a dozen counties, including Albany and Schenectady, several in and near to New York City and Middletown and Newburgh in Orange County have passed laws prohibiting sale of such fireworks.

Warren County opted “in,” but Mr. Dickinson hopes the Board of Supervisors might rethink that decision.

“When they passed it a few years ago, I was adamantly opposed. Now I feel there is some movement on the board to join with me in opposition to fireworks and sparklers.”

Government Operations chairman Doug Beaty said of the vendors, “I think they may be taking advantage,” by selling fireworks beyond what’s allowable.

“I’d like to have a healthy discussion on it. Do we need to tighten the law?”

Mr. Dickinson says, “I think it’s a lot of fly-by-nighter people who come up and set up the tents. I think it’s offensive and detracts from the business community. They come up here, a lot from the Carolinas, and most of the money goes back with them to the Carolinas, except a little in sales tax.”

He said, “The fireworks are dangerous, and I don’t think it is necessary for us to be promoting the sale of these things.”

Even actual sparklers, lighted fireworks on sticks, can be dangerous to children, Mr. Dickinson adds.

“I live next to a resort and my Fourth of July starts before June’s over. I put up with it for a little while. The noise complaints I get as supervisor in Lake George are rampant,” he says.

He doesn’t have data, but said, “I know there’s been an increase in emergency calls for fireworks accidents. I assume it’s similar in other towns.”

Mr. Dickinson’s goal? “I’ll see if it makes it out of committee,” as a resolution to put before the full board. “I have a lot of things on my plate,” he says. “If they withdrew it I would be pleased, but I’ve got a lot of other things going on, if not.”

Among them, Mr. Dickinson noted efforts to decide how the Town and Village of Lake George will divide the cost of a new $250,000 vacuum truck for flushing sewers and stormwater as part of their shared sewage treatment plant agreement.

He said the planned improvement project on Route 9L heading north from the Village of Lake George is “going very well,” now in the grant design stage.

Sheriff LaFarr: Seem to be more fireworks

Warren County Sheriff Jim LaFarr tells The Chronicle, “Yes, this year we saw a considerable number of personal fireworks and fireworks complaint calls.”

“This year I’m certain, in and around the whole area, it seemed like there were increased numbers of people using personal fireworks,” such as sparklers or fountain-style pyrotechnics.

However, he said, he did not have data that would be available by press time.

“Some of them do make a lot of noise or shoot high,” but they are legal, he says. “If we get a call, we are going to respond, to determine if they are of legal age and the fireworks are legal.

“If not, we would give out an appearance ticket.” — Cathy DeDe

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