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Fireworks industry says it understands tough decision of ban, will take steep loss this season

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Fireworks vendors are looking for a plan B after Midland County commissioners and Gov. Rick Perry approved a ban of the products last week. “Obviously this is a devastating blow for the fireworks industry,” said Jan Johnson, vice president with TNT Fireworks. “It was, I’m sure, a very difficult decision. At this point we just have to hope that the weather turns.” Commissioners voted on Friday for a 60-hour fireworks ban and then appealed to Perry to extend the ban through July 4 as state law requires. Perry agreed with the request and prohibited the use and sale of fireworks in Midland County through 7 a.m. on July 5, or after the period in which they can be sold in Texas. County Judge Mike Bradford said they made the decision early, in part, to allow those in the industry time to move their inventory elsewhere and minimize any losses. With the extreme dry conditions and continuing forecast of no precipitation, Bradford said, prohibiting the use of fireworks was necessary to protect citizens and their assets. At Truckload Fireworks, Scott Baker said they’re looking into taking inventory elsewhere and trying to sell through the season in a different county. Ector County has not banned the use of all fireworks, but Baker said they expect with no rain it likely will follow Midland’s lead. “We can’t sell ‘em if it’s dry,” he said. Johnson said unfortunately they don’t foresee being able to unload any of their fireworks purchased for sale in Midland County. She said the majority of their inventory comes from China Fireworks so they started receiving products as early as last October in preparation for the Fourth of July. So far, Midland is one of a handful of Texas counties that has banned fireworks and while they understand the decisions, Johnson said it will make things difficult. “I’m not sure who would need inventory now. It will be a blow,” she said, declining to elaborate on the potential dollar amount being lost. “Fireworks is not just a seasonal thing for us. We have employees that are full-time and this hurts them, as well.” Joe Daughtry, president of the Texas Fireworks Association, said he was in a meeting on Monday where another county was considering a fireworks ban and that the dry conditions have made things tough in various parts of the state. Baker said while they might be able to safely sell products such as smoke bombs, with grass as dry as it is, any spark could set off a major fire making the use of fireworks ill-advised in counties with conditions like Midland’s. If Midland County were to receive significant precipitation before the holiday, Bradford said the ban could be lifted. Johnson said rain is what they’re all hoping for. In addition to a profit loss for the company, she said, the families and nonprofits who run their stands also are having to go without the extra income they usually bring in. Mid-Cities Church, for example, typically runs a stand on Highway 191 and uses proceeds for youth-related activities. This year, she said, those types of groups will have to find new fundraising avenues. “We are members of the community and we’re just as concerned as everyone else,” she said. “We’d hope there could be solutions where we could still celebrate with fireworks. That hasn’t worked out so far.” When Midland County banned China fireworks in 2008, Bradford said the industry pursued legal action to overturn the decision, but that the county’s ban was upheld. Read more: Fireworks industry says it understands tough decision of ban, will take steep loss this season – Top Stories


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