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Fireworks law changes, celebrations do not


Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson

A red and blue firework bursts in the sky during the Havre Jaycees annual Fourth of July Fireworks Display near the Great Northern Fairgrounds Monday evening. See Friday's Hi-Line Living and Community pages for more Fourth of July celebration photographs.

The Fourth of July weekend is over, and Havre is still here.

After Havre City Council passed an ordinance changing the city's fireworks laws, some dating to 1910, Havre residents celebrated the birth of the United States with legitimate explosives for the first time in years, and it seems not much changed.

According to Havre Fire Chief Dave Sheppard, who was a supporter of the change, this year's Fourth of July was not that different from previous years.

Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson

Tomi Bunney, right, and her 2-year-old daughter Alaya Bunney of Great Falls watch a fountain go off near the Great Northern Fairgrounds Monday.

"We didn't have a really high number of calls, " Sheppard said. "This year was really no different. "

He added that personally, he hadn't really noticed a difference in his neighborhood either.

Havre Police Department's Acting Chief Gabe Matosich said that the changed law offered some relief from what had been an overwhelming event.

"When it was illegal to shoot them off in the city, there were lots of complaints, " Matosich said. "Before we were so inundated with calls it was like, 'Oh my God. ' You couldn't do anything.

"This year, I think it went really well. "

While the fireworks were allowed, from July 2 through July 4 at midnight, only two calls were made to the police about fireworks, mostly from people concerned about children using them.

As soon as the ban came back into effect, at midnight this morning, it seems that people had had their fill of the bright and loud festivities.

At 12:02 a. m., the first call came in, with four more following in the next 40 minutes and another an hour later.

Going longer than allowed was not the only way that people went above and beyond legal usage.

The new law maintained restrictions set in state laws, including those "limited to those that meet the definition of 'common fireworks' as set forth in the U. S. Department of Transportation's Hazardous Materials Regulations, " which bans "sky rockets, roman candles and bottle rockets. "

Many fireworks outside the definition of "common fireworks" could be seen and heard throughout Havre over the weekend and especially on the evening of the Fourth.

"We still seem to have people using fireworks that aren't allowed in the state of Montana, " Sheppard said.

With no real change seen in usage and that usage still exceeding the more permissive law in a couple of means, it seems that Havre is going to blow things up no matter what the law says.

But now fewer people complain about it.


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