Published On: Thu, May 16th, 2013

Fireworks are hot topic at Council meeting

LAUREL  — The item on the agenda that received the most discussion was a potential change in the city’s policy regarding fireworks during the upcoming Fourth of July season.

While it is only legal to sell fireworks in the state of Nebraska from June 25 through July 4, there is little regulation regarding the use of fireworks that were purchased legally and are legal for use in Nebraska.

Mayor Mark Patefield emphasized the City of Laurel has a catch-all disturbing of the peace ordinance that can be used to curtail firework usage late at night and in residential neighborhoods.

Other cities in the area have ordinances specifically geared toward fireworks and some citizens of Laurel feel Laurel ought to adopt one, as well.

“Since we already have a nuisance ordinance in place, and people don’t follow that and know how to complain correctly, another ordinance on top of that isn’t necessarily going to make it any better,” Patefield said. “The nuisance ordinance is already in effect, so [City Police Chief Ryan Van Cleave] can enforce that.”

Patefield emphasized the City of Laurel, as well as any citizens who take issue with inappropriate fireworks usage, need to make more of a concerted effort to place those complaints in the hands of city police, whose jurisdiction it is to enforce the current nuisance ordinance.

Councilman Keith Knudsen emphasized a similar point of view that the city needs to better enforce its current ordinances as opposed to adopting new ones.

Also Monday, Economic Development Coordinator Luke Virgil presented a case for the Laurel City Council’s investment in the Oklahoma University Economic Development Institute — a three-year certification program involving three one-week sessions formatted similarly to Heartland Basic Economic Development—a professional development course for economic developers.

The training offered at OUEDI is more extensive than Heartland Basic. Completion of OUEDI, along with four years of professional experience allows one to sit for the Certified Economic Developers Exam, which—upon participation in OUEDI—Laurel Economic Developer Luke Virgil will be eligible to attempt.

Virgil emphasized the Laurel City Council is not obligated to rush to a decision about investing in OUEDI as the next session is not until November of this year. The total investment into OUEDI will be considerably more than Heartland Basic, and no decision was made at Monday night’s meeting.

“It is a prestigious thing to be certified, there’s only 1,200 in the United States. If you complete the training and you go through the certification exam and you get certified it’s well worth it,” Virgil said. “It’s something that I as a professional can hang my hat on, but also something that businesses coming to Laurel won’t shake a stick at.”

The City Council will meet again Monday, June 10, at 6 p.m.