Columbia County considers plan for legal fireworks
Jeanette Wolfberg is reporting in the Columbia Paper the possible legalization of the sale of fireworks in Columbia County dominated the county Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee meeting last week. Supervisors heard a presentation from Vincent Szabo of Phantom Fireworks, and Wayne Lair, Jr. with Statewide Public Affairs Inc., a government relations and communications firm, on the proposed Columbia County Sparkling Device Law. Szabo explained that New York has authorized for retail sale various forms of fireworks including, party poppers, snappers and wooden sparklers. However, aerial devices, bottle rockets, firecrackers and Roman candles are still illegal. To sell fireworks, retailers typically pay $250 for a tent and $2,500 for a brick-and-mortar location, plus sales tax. Phantom's goal is to establish three tents per county. Arguing against legalization, county Fire Coordinator William Hunt presented information on the link between fireworks and fires. He also said legal, "safe and sane" fireworks caused more injuries than illegal fireworks, especially among pre-school aged children. Tom Rector, president of the Columbia County Fire Chiefs Association, concurred. Following the conversation the committee agreed to table the matter until its next meeting on March 17. At present, 35 of the state's 57 counties have legalized the retail sale of certain types of fireworks, including Dutchess, Greene, Rensselaer and Ulster. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 10,500 people were injured by fireworks countrywide in 2014. Read the full story in the Columbia Paper.