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Letter to the editor: Jamestown is out of the mainstream on ordinance

I read Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen’s irresponsible comments on fireworks in Wednesday’s edition of The Sun with much disbelief. Could those quotes possibly have come from a public official in charge, in part, with attempting to ensure the safety of the public?

Andersen said, essentially, since Jamestown hasn’t suffered a serious injury or fire in recent years, our antiquated fireworks policy is just fine, as is. Have we already forgotten the Williston, N.D., man who died from a fireworks injury just a few weeks ago? Or the Fargo man who was decapitated in 2011? Have we forgotten the Sanborn, N.D., fire of 2013, when the building housing the city’s fireworks stash burned to the ground? Are we to believe none of this could happen here in Jamestown? Rolling the dice and hoping for the best is not a public policy that should be embraced by the citizens.

The Jamestown City Council has been provided pages and pages of safety data. They are fully aware that 10,000 injuries occur every year due to the use of consumer fireworks, including multiple deaths, permanent loss of vision and serious burns. About half of these injuries are suffered by “non-participants,” and this is a number that should have gotten the City Council’s attention due to the potential liability to the city.

The City Council is also aware that 15,000 to 20,000 fires are started each year by those same fireworks, and City Council members were provided a letter from the North Dakota Fire Chief’s Association, urging them to consider enacting a citywide fireworks ban. The City Council was also provided a list of 25 public health and public safety organizations that have called for a ban on consumer fireworks. None of this apparently matters.

In North Dakota, Jamestown is 10 to 20 years behind the curve with regard to our non-policy on fireworks. Thanks to the TV piece on KVLY, much of our state and parts of Minnesota are now aware of this. A check of similarly-sized cites in South Dakota shows once again that Jamestown is out of the mainstream.

So how can our City Council and mayor disregard all this data? How can they refuse to do what most cities this size have done years ago? I think it’s pretty clear, to anybody paying attention, that our city government seems to have a cozy relationship with the fireworks vendors. Could this all simply boil down to dollars and sense? Does the almighty buck trump the safety of the public, not to mention the quality of life in Jamestown? If so, it’s a disgrace.

Get ready to sign some petitions. It looks like that will be our only remedy for this insanity.