Johnson Co. OK's fireworks for Memorial Day
A plea to allow Johnson County rural residents to observe Memorial Day with personal firework displays has been supported by commissioners.
Residents will be allowed to purchase fireworks in unincorporated areas of the county May 25-30. Memorial Day will be observed May 30.
"I understand the concerns with another fireworks holiday in Johnson County," said Jonathan Buchert, who addressed the court in support of Memorial Day fireworks. "They have the potential to cause injury and start fires."
Bicycles, pens and pencils, home exercise equipment, barbecue grills and glass doors are viewed as being more dangerous consumer products than fireworks by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Fire Protection Association, Buchert said.
Many counties are approving firework sales for Texas Independence Day, San Jacinto Day and Memorial Day, in addition to other days like the Fourth of July and New Year's, County Attorney Bill Moore said.
"We have had a lot of rain and everything is greened up," Stringer said.
Commissioners supported the sale of fireworks in the county by a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Kenny Howell and Larry Woolley opposing the measure.
"There are still a lot of stored agricultural products around that are my concern," said Woolley, who noted a large number of agricultural producers in his precinct. "There are crops coming into maturity that are in the dry stage."
Howell voted against the measure for "personal reasons," he said, later further defining his desire not to place more undue danger and call load on firefighters.
"I will continue to vote against fireworks," Woolley said. "I do enjoy going to a professional fireworks show."
The danger posed by fireworks may be overstated, Buchert said.
"Fourty-seven percent of all wildfires are caused by smoking," he said. "Laws and regulations already exist in the [firework] industry for the safety and protection against property. If Johnson County doesn't allow it, I think residents will leave the county with their revenue and their taxes."
Commissioner Rick Bailey provided his support, citing an example from another state.
"If you go other places, like Tennessee, you can go in any time, any day of the year and purchase fireworks," he said. "You never really hear a lot about wildfires in Tennessee."
Bailey has a zero turn mower stuck in a pasture presently, because it is bogged down in mud.
"There's always concerns about livestock and personal safety, but we have had a lot of rain recently," Bailey said. There is presently no measurable drought on the Texas A&M Forest Service's index. The Texas Drought Monitor reports 89.3 percent of the state has no level of drought, with only 19,942 residents in abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions.
County Judge Roger Harmon told the court his family enjoys igniting fireworks on holidays, and his vote was made based on present conditions.
"We put our firefighters at risk, even if we've had a lot of rain as we have now," he said. "My interest is for the residents of this county, not for firework sales."