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NEWBERRY ‒ The subject of fireworks led to a spirited discussion at the July 26 Newberry City Commission meeting. For residents attending the meeting, the issue was whether to allow them, permit them or eliminate them.

Finding that the City’s Code of Ordinances has conflicting provisions regarding the sale or use of fireworks within city limits, Fire Chief Ben Buckner asked for direction from the Commission as to how he should proceed when a request is made to conduct fireworks displays in Newberry. Horses and cattle knocking down fences in fear at the sound of the fireworks was a cause of concern by some Commissioners and citizens.

Commissioner Rick Coleman said he had to help corral cattle after they knocked down fences and stampeded following one fireworks display. Cheryl Coleman addressed Commissioners to say that her horses run wild with fear whenever fireworks are set off anywhere near them. The City Attorney told her that these shows had public liability insurance and would be responsible if any of her animals were hurt because of the fireworks show.

Robert Miles of Ram Pyrotechnics, Ocala, said he did private small venue fireworks shows. He asked that the City develop a permit process for people who want to hold fireworks displays. He said there are low noise fireworks that can be used, but they are limited. He added that Volusia County had a good policy on fireworks and described how that works.

Several residents spoke against fireworks, including Preston Ponse who said he was a horseman and that fireworks are dangerous to horses and he was against having fireworks. Alvin Langford also spoke against allowing fireworks, saying that fireworks shows cause them extra work, problems with his livestock, and someone else makes money at their expense.

Mayor Jordan Marlowe explained that the carnival and music show the Commission recently approved was a done deal, but that the City needed to come up with a way to handle future requests.

The City Attorney will be reviewing Volusia and Alachua County’s ordinances and the item was tabled. Marlowe said the item would be publicized so that the public could come and express their opinions.

City Manager Mike New said he would contact the people putting on the carnival and concert to see if it might be possible for them to use low noise fireworks in their display.

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