A discussion regarding height requirements for fireworks was discussed during the joint Dodge City and Ford County commission meeting on Monday.

Through several complaints made to the city, a proposal was put forth to potentially limit the height of fireworks.

"Looking at what Wichita has done, the height requirement would be no more than 6 feet," Dodge City manager Cherise Tieben said. "It is something I think we need to discuss while we are all here."

If a plan were to take effect, the Ford County commission would have to also limit what fireworks vendors could sell to the public in order to be within the possible requirement.

According to Mayor Brian Delzeit and Ford County Commission chairman Shawn Tassett, a resident brought in to both commission meetings a shell that had been fired off over the summer that landed on her property.

"The shell looked like it had been attached to a parachute, which extends its time back to the earth," Tassett said. "I am having a hard time with this. It feels to me it's a time to celebrate patriotism."

Delzeit added, "Looking at it as a commissioner, I feel we do have public safety to consider and another thing to consider is the product brought in to us was not sold around here.

"It came in from Ellsworth, so how could we even begin to enforce that?"

Ford County Commissioner Chris Boys said the county does not have a ban ordinance in place.

"People can shoot them off right now if they wanted," Boys said. "And people stock up all year round.

"We always have this discussion especially when it is too dry with burn bans."

Boys also brought up the concept of having the city fireworks display when residents wouldn't be allowed to shoot fireworks higher than 6 feet.

City commissioners say by moving the display to the roundup arena area this year, it put that location in containing drop zones.

"My personal opinion is," city Commissioner Kent Smoll said, "is if people purchase something that shoots higher than what is set and say they can shoot them in a specific location (United Wireless Arena, for example) they are going to shoot them in their neighborhood regardless."

The possible proposal of changes being made for fireworks would take effect in 2021, according to Dodge City Commissioner Rick Sowers.

Smoll suggested the formation of a committee that would consist of the police chief, sheriff, city and county fire chief and the vendors to come up with possible options.

"It would be a nightmare trying to stop this deal," Ford County Commissioner Ken Snook said. "It would be a terrible nightmare for the police department and if something happened elsewhere, people would say, 'Why weren't you at my house taking care of it?'

"If we ban the selling of it here they will drive to wherever to get what they want."

Sowers added, "The vendors of the fireworks need to be driven by public safety, but if communities such as Wichita can solve the problem and aerials in Colorado are pretty much abolished, it's not a mountain we can't climb."

City and Ford County commissioners also reached an interlocal agreement for the development of Nor-Am Cold Storage facility to be built in Dodge City.

According to officials, Nor-Am is a cold storage refrigeration company looking to bring a 148,000-square-foot building and invest $35 million into the community, $27 million being commercial real estate, which would also create 90 jobs over the first three years.

The agreement with the city and county was also for the relocation of the residential portion of McCaustland No. 2 road.

In the proposed agreement, the interaction between residential and commercial traffic on McCaustland No. 2 road would be high, and for safety purposes, it was recommended that residential traffic be relocated to McCaustland No. 1 road.

"The (new) road would separate residential traffic for people that live on McCaustland No. 2 road from some of the traffic that may happen with the Nor-Am project," Dodge City director of engineering Ray Slattery told the joint commission. "It would get them out of the traffic of the trucks making deliveries to Nor-Am or from Nor-Am to their customers.

"It would also provide a way for the school bus to get into the residents of McCaustland No. 2 road."

The road then used by Nor-Am would eventually be deeded back to Nor-Am to be maintained by it, according to Tieben.

The property tax through Nor-Am would be used to pay for the new residential road, so neither the city nor Ford County would be paying for the road.

The tentative agreement was approved by the Ford County commission 3-0 and the Dodge City commission 5-0.

A final agreement will need to be made once design plans for the new road and bids are completed.


To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.