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Montgomery seeks to curb illegal fireworks : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Montgomery seeks to curb illegal fireworks
Board members cite complaints over holiday; ask for police review

by John Etheredge

7/24/2014

Montgomery Village Board members would like village police to do something to better control illegal fireworks in the village.

Village board member Stan Bond told his board colleagues during a July 10 meeting he had received a number of calls from residents upset over the "the large, illegal fireworks" that were exploded in their neighborhoods over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

"I know there are lot of difficulties in enforcing those statutes, but I would welcome some conversation at some point about some creative thinking we might be able to apply to addressing the (fireworks) issue," Bond said, adding, "I think it is getting worse and I did get a lot of complaints."

Board member Denny Lee agreed with Bond and suggested the village could better publicize existing state laws that prohibit the use of most types of fireworks within municipal limits in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July.

Referring to his own neighborhood, Lee said, "I had some fireworks that could match anybody's--especially with the noise--for a good hour and one-half before 10 p.m. I told my wife that it would stop at 10 p.m. and it pretty much did in our neighborhood. But up until that time it just went on."

Lee said it wouldn't have been difficult for village police to find the display in his neighborhood since the "light show was tremendous."

"But I guess none of our neighbors complained because a lot of them were over there (watching the display)," he added.

Board member Doug Marecek said one of his neighbors called 911 to report an illegal fireworks display and a KenCom dispatcher asked if him if he had an address.

"He said, 'No', and the dispatcher told him there was nothing they could do unless they had an exact address," Marecek said.

Marecek said it would be difficult where he lives near Lakewood Creek Elementary School to identify the exact location of someone setting off fireworks on the other side of the school property.

"They set them off in the school lot. The next day we were in the park (by the school) and it was littered with all spent (fireworks) shells," he said.

"If there is a way we can just supply some good, fresh thinking to it, it's better than ignoring (the problem)," Bond said.

"I'm sure the (police) chief and deputy chief can come up with something by July 4 of next year," Lee said.

"We will definitely take a look at it and have a solution by July 4 (2015)," Police Chief Daniel Meyers told the board.

When questioned by board member Theresa Sperling, Meyers confirmed that police did confiscate some illegal fireworks from local residents over the Fourth of July weekend..

Concerning the proliferation of fireworks, Meyers said, "The week before the Fourth of July and the week after, we just maintain."

Meyers added that this year the setting off of illegal fireworks in local neighborhoods started in mid-June and continued through the Fourth of July weekend.

Meyers has said previously the penalty for anyone found in possession of illegal fireworks is $50 for the first offense, which increases to $75 if not paid after seven days.

The maximum fine is up to $750, Meyers said.

Marecek and Lee both agreed that if more village residents were aware through a village publicity campaign that the maximum fine for possessing illegal fireworks is $750 it could serve as a deterrent.

Village Attorney Steve Andersson noted that a $750 fine is the maximum fine the village can impose for a single violation under state law.

"We won't be able to bring you an ordinance that will increase that amount," Andersson said.

"Is it a single violation for each firework?" asked board member Steve Jungermann.

"Probably not," Andersson said, adding, "I've dealt with those cases where you try to charge multiple items as separate charges and the courts have pretty routinely knocked that down."




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