Fireworks will be allowed in rural Ellis County during the holiday weekend, thanks to a vote of the Ellis County Commission on Thursday that overturned the commission’s previous decision to ban them.
The recent rain and forecast of cooler temperatures and continued precipitation during the Fourth of July weekend were cited as the reasons behind the turn of events. The three commissioners voted unanimously to allow fireworks this weekend.
“If we don’t take advantage of it with such a wet June, I can’t imagine a scenario where there would be a better opportunity to do it,” Commissioner Barbara Wasinger said.
Fireworks will be allowed from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday to Monday, which is the same time the city of Hays is allowing them.
Selling fireworks is not legal outside city limits.
The commission had agreed June 13 to uphold the county law that bans fireworks use in unincorporated Ellis County. To allow fireworks, the commission must pass a resolution ahead of the holiday celebration.
Ellis County Rural Fire Chief Darin Myers said the rain would help, but still said he always would err on the side of caution and recommend against allowing fireworks. He previously cited safety concerns such as a longer response time to rural parts of the county if a fire does occur, as well as grass varieties that can cause fire to spread quickly, especially with minimal wind block.
“We have had the moisture, which we didn’t know if we were going to have a month ago, and thank goodness we did,” Myers said. “However … it will probably be my recommendation this year, and if I’m here as the chief for 30 years, my recommendation will always be same — just not to allow fireworks.”
“But we will make it work one way or another, depending on what you choose.”
Wasinger apologized to Myers for the commission not following his recommendation.
“I always want to follow your recommendations. However, with the rain and what I’ve been hearing from people, and over the past six years of drought, people are chomping at the bit to set off fireworks,” Wasinger said. “And as much as I hate fireworks unless they’re by a professional doing them, I’m leaning in the direction of allowing them.”
“I am leaning in the same direction,” Commissioner Marcy McClelland said. “In fact, I’m ready to make a motion.”
Commission Chairman Dean Haselhorst said he has heard mixed opinions from residents. While many have requested fireworks be allowed in the county, others have voiced concern, he said.
“I think it is supposed to rain again (Friday) and Saturday,” Haselhorst said.