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Bingen weighs fireworks ban, considers limits on tribal sales

Hearing is slated for Aug. 5

Although state law requires a one-year time lag before any ban could take effect, the Bingen City Council is considering a plan to ban fireworks within the city limits of Bingen except for designated areas.

At the July 15 council meeting, two council members said they tentatively favored some type of restrictions on fireworks use, at least in public areas such as Daubenspeck Park.

Others raised concerns about the right of residents to have legal fireworks on their own property.

"What if someone wants their kids to have sparklers in their own back yard?" asked council member Terry Trantow. "Would we want to ban that too?"

No citizens from Bingen attended the meeting.

The concept of banning fireworks except in specified areas stems from the experience of this year's Independence Day celebration. On July 4, Port of Klickitat property at Bingen Point was set aside as a place for local residents to come and set off their own fireworks. Fire, medical, and law enforcement personnel were on hand to deal with any emergency.

With many people showing up at Bingen Point, officials reported few incidents elsewhere in the community. Representatives of the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department said they had fewer calls this July 4 than ever before in the overall community, and there were no significant incidents at Bingen Point.

As a result, the general consensus was that setting aside a specific area for fireworks had proven to be a success, and the concept is likely to be repeated for 2004.

Two council members, Laura Mann and Jeanette Fentie, expressed support for a general fireworks ban that would cover all except any areas designated for fireworks use.

Although the question of whether the ban would include private property as well as public parks and streets was left open, the consensus of the council was to move forward with some type of fireworks ban in the city limits.

The issue will be considered at the Aug. 5 council meeting, beginning at 7 p.m. at Bingen City Hall.

The issue of the sale of tribal fireworks was also addressed. This year saw the sale of thousands of dollars worth of fireworks that are illegal in the state of Washington. In fact, on July 4, local police and deputies from the Sheriff's Office confiscated at least $3,000 worth of illegal fireworks in Bingen and White Salmon.

To mitigate the problems stemming from that, next July the city plans to post signs near where tribal members sell the fireworks to warn buyers that some of the fireworks may be illegal.

"If we can't regulate the sale, we can at least put a sign up," explained Mayor Brian Prigel.


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