Most of the Monday evening Cabot City Council agenda meeting was discussion on whether or not to consider changing the fireworks ordinance, with the new Cabot city employee handbook the only item recommended for consideration at the Aug. 21 city council meeting.
Members of the combined Public Works, Budget and Personnel, Police and Fire, and Community Development committees also heard of efforts by residents to establish transition assistance to address the area’s growing homeless population.
Committee members Damon Bivens, Kevin Davis, Ed Long, Norma Naquin, Rick Prentice, Doug Warner attended the meeting; Ann Gilliam was unable to attend.
Police and Fire Committee chairman Rick Prentice said the city’s fireworks ordinance needs to be revised and enforced, or the ban on fireworks should be lifted. “It doesn’t have a lot of meat to it, [it is] pretty vague on a lot of stuff … we need some kind of teeth in this thing,” he remarked.
Prentice said the fireworks restriction should be July 3 and 4; use the noise ordinance to restrict fireworks to between 6 a.m and 10 p.m.; and more consideration be given to the threat of fires. “I don’t see fire protection sitting around neighborhoods like they are at [city events],” he remarked.
Participation by residents and council members is needed to create a workable ordinance, Prentice said.
Fines need to be made substantial, Prentice said. “Right now the fine is a joke,” he remarked.
Davis said the current fines, not less than $100 and not more than $250, were set because the district judge, at the time, would not enforce anything greater.
Current district Judge Clint McGue would be needed in discussions concerning fines, Davis said.
Chief of Police Jackie Davis said enforcement of any ban is complicated by determining who has set off any fireworks, “and, if you have juveniles setting them off, you are under a whole new set of laws.”
Also, due to sheer numbers, fireworks calls are low priority; this year there were 119 fireworks calls between July 1 and 5, he said.
Other remarks noted that if the law is not enforced, the ban on fireworks should be lifted, opening the way to sales in the city and the revenue that would come with it.
Committee members agreed to begin a review of the ordinance.
In other matters, the committee members recommended the reappointments of Bert Mayer to the Cabot Water Wastewater Commission, of Nancy Cohea, Darrell Tullos and Chuck Prater to the Cabot Planning Commission be considered at the coming city council meeting.
Area residents Allen Miller and Kimberly Buchberger told the committee of work they have begun to establish a “Transition Home” at Cabot, to meet the needs of the growing number of people without homes.
It is called “transition aid” because the term “homeless” is scary to people, Buchberger remarked.
Buchberger told of allowing an encampment on her property outside city limits, and of other aid being given to about 16 families.
But such aid could be expanded to include everything from daycare to help getting a GED under a Transition Home, she said. Currently they are helping a woman with a 9-month-old child, who is sheltered at night but the next day is “put back on the street,” because of limits to the help, she said.
Miller said there will an organizational meeting, at 10 a.m., Aug. 26, at the American Legion Post, in the Cabot Mini-mall on First Street.