Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Skies could light up extra hour this summer

Fireworks revisited; trash rates on way up.

What a difference Daylight Savings Time and increasing hours of sunlight make.

When the Gothenburg City Council decided not to extend hours to detonate fireworks last October, hours of sunlight were dwindling.

Council members revisited the issue on April 5 at the request of residents who sell fireworks.

City ordinance allows for detonation from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. from June 24-July 3 and until midnight on July 4.

J.P. Thomalla said his family has operated a fireworks stand for 35 years, noting that a lot of business is done around 9 p.m. when he’s getting ready to close because it’s starting to get dark and people want to shoot off fireworks.

J.P.’s brother, Mike Thomalla, said 10 p.m. is early in the summer. Ball games and other activities are often still going on. Mike, like J.P., said he likes to try new fireworks with family and friends but it’s not dark yet at 10 p.m.

Noting that he’s a railroader who often sleeps during the day, Mike said he’s disturbed by barking dogs and noises other than fireworks.

He said fireworks are detonated after the Firemen’s Ball in June after the 10 p.m. cut-off time.

Fireworks were also smaller and less costly when the Thomallas opened their stand, Mike said.

“I’d like to consider extending hours,” he said.

Another fireworks salesman, Ed Wuehler, said the 10 p.m. cutoff was depriving many people of enjoying what they spend money to buy, adding that several other cities—like Cozad—allow their residents to detonate fireworks later into the night.

Council president Jeff Kennedy pointed out that a city survey sent to residents showed that a majority didn’t want fireworks sold or detonated on New Year’s Eve or an extension of hours 10 days before July 4.

However Kennedy said he’s realized that it’s not dark at 10 p.m. in June and July.

The council then passed, on first reading, an ordinance that extends hours of fireworks sales and detonation to 11 p.m. June 25 to July 3.

On another matter, the council introduced a proposal that would raise waste-hauling rates 50 cents—from $14.50 to $15 for residents.

Mike and Travis Houchin of Mike’s Sanitation said increasing fuel rates have affected their business.

Travis said it’s become more expensive to haul waste to the landfill north of Lexington and that weekly garbage stops throughout the city have become more expensive.

Because 50 cents of the $14.50 rate goes to the city for billing and 25 cents to maintain the tree lot, he pointed out that haulers receive only $13.75.

In a letter to city administrator Bruce Clymer, Dan Sabin of Dan’s Sanitation said fuel has increased $1 per gallon since January.

“When the fuel goes up, it also makes parts and repairs and tires and freight and container prices go up as well,” Sabin wrote, suggesting a 3% hike for now.

During other action, the council introduced a measure that would allow utility vehicles on city streets and alleys between sunrise and sunset.

The vehicles, which don’t include three-wheeled terrain vehicles, must have headlights, taillights and a bicycle safety flag.

In other business, the council:

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