By RANDY GONZALES
Two Vietnam veterans came before the Hays City Commission in its Thursday meeting at city hall wanting to know why the city's ban on fireworks couldn't be lifted after the recent rains.
"To me, that's a slap in my face," Darrell Loreg, Hays, said of the ban.
Loreg wanted to know why a fireworks show was being allowed as part of the Wild West Festival, but individual citizens couldn't shoot off fireworks.
"On the issue of the Wild West Festival, that is a controlled event, where you have rural as well as city fire trucks in place," Commissioner Eber Phelps said. "It's in a controlled and secure area, where these fireworks are discharged."
John Pyle, Hays, also a Vietnam veteran, said commissioners' drought concerns don't hold water.
"You would be hard-pressed to convince the public we have a fireworks ban because of the dry, drought conditions," he said.
"John, I think you may be laboring under a false perception," Commissioner Kent Steward said. "It's true we've had a lot of rain. We are not out of the drought."
Steward also was concerned if the fireworks ban was lifted, the public could think the drought was over and not conserve water.
"It really concerns me that we would be sending a confusing message if we lifted the ban," Steward said.
Commissioner Shaun Musil said at an earlier meeting he was in favor of lifting the fireworks ban this year. He maintained that stance Thursday.
"To me, it's absolutely insane -- in my opinion -- that we're not having them this year because of all the rain we've had," he said. "We're not out of the drought; I agree with that.
"To me, we just look silly not allowing them this year."
Commissioners took no action on the item.
Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV was absent.
In other business:
* Commissioners approved renewal of a commercial insurance policy with BRIT Insurance.
* Commissioners awarded a contract with Shubert Heating & Air Inc. in the amount of $37,700 to replace the water plant boiler.
* Commissioners approved an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration for grant funding of $920,133 for construction improvements at Hays Regional Airport. The city would match with $203,557 for the project from the Airport Improvement Fund; $60,800 from the 2014 Airport Operating Budget: and $202,195 from the Capital Projects Fund.
* Commissioners approved an engineering agreement with Burns and McDonnell in the amount of $165,000 for the improvement project at Hays Regional Airport.
* Commissioners approved a 2015 addendum to the contract with Hays Service Employees International Union. The city of Hays and SEIU Local 513 have an agreement for fiscal year 2015. The agreement provides members of the SEIU bargaining unit with a one-time, 2-percent bonus, paid biweekly beginning with the first payroll in 2015. The city will continue the current pay ranges.