Merrillville toughens fireworks penalties
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent September 25, 2012 9:28PM
Updated: October 27, 2012 6:26AM
MERRILLVILLE — Residents caught shooting off or simply possessing illegal explosive fireworks will have to pay a heftier fine under a new ordinance being adopted by the Town Council.
The council Tuesday voted 6-0 on first reading to approve a revised fireworks ordinance that increases the fines for anyone using, igniting or discharging illegal explosive devices to $1,000 for a first offense and $2,000 per subsequent offense.
Some examples of illegal explosives are quarter sticks, cherry bombs and M80s.
Councilman Tom Goralczyk, D-3rd, said the council has been working on the amended ordinance for a couple months. A resident had come to a previous council meeting asking for stricter laws regarding fireworks.
Resident Charles Best commended the council for its action, but asked the council to publicize the hours and days that shooting off fireworks is allowed as well.
“I know there are a lot of aerial fireworks being discharged in town that I know are not legal,” he said.
The ordinance still has to pass second reading to become law.
In other matters, Councilman Donald Spann, D-1st, said Olympic Gold medalist Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas will be in the region on Oct. 15 and he and Councilwoman Carol Miano, D-3rd, are working on a program to honor her.
He said plans are to have a parade in her honor followed by a visit to Merrillville High School, where Douglas will receive a key to the city and the school’s orchestra, choir and gymnasts will perform.
Douglas’ grandparents live in Merrillville.
The council voted 5-1 to approve have an additional branch pickup through town due to the large number of branches still sitting by the curbs.
Councilman Richard Hardaway, D-2nd, suggested the extra pickup, saying if the town doesn’t pick them up they probably will still be there when the snow falls.
Public Works director Bruce Spires said the council sets the policy on how often the town would do branch pickup.
“We may need to rethink that policy,” said Hardaway. “We take a hard line stand, but that hard line stand could get us into trouble.”
Miano cast the lone dissenting vote, saying the town already is in the process of having a special pickup for seniors who cannot haul the branches to the curb by themselves. She also noted no one knows if another storm could hit the region.