Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The Fireworks over Fireworks
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The Fireworks over Fireworks

Lots of noise, but little trouble thanks to a patchwork of local ordinances

Patrick Sullivan - August 26th, 2013  

A 55-year-old Traverse City man faces up to 90 days in jail on a charge that he set the fuse of a mortar round while under the influence of alcohol and the firework landed on a pontoon boat, scorched the deck, and caused $1,200 in damage.

But the case of James William Goodyear, who was arraigned on the misdemeanor charge Aug. 19 stemming from the July 5 incident, is a rare one.

Most people who light off exploding fireworks either stay within the rules, or close enough that there aren’t consequences.

Goodyear’s is possibly the only fireworks case in Grand Traverse County in almost two summers under a new, more permissive state fireworks law, Prosecutor Bob Cooney said.

“I believe that this is the first time this year, anyway, that I know we’ve charged a misdemeanor fireworks violation,” Cooney said.

Instead, despite a patchwork of local laws that make the discharge of exploding or flying fireworks okay one place but against a local ordinance elsewhere, fireworks have generated noise complaints, but apparently not a lot of other trouble in Northern Michihan.

A PATCHWORK OF ORDINANCES

If for some people it is unclear what is allowed and what is not allowed under current state law, that’s because the legislature left it to local governments like townships, villages and cities to pass more restrictive laws governing when fireworks can be ignited.

On national holidays like Labor Day, Christmas or the Fourth of July, local governments cannot ban fireworks; they can only bar them from being set off late at night. That also goes for the day before and the day after the holiday.

Other days, local governments can ban them.

Cooney said in Grand Traverse County more restrictive ordinances have been passed in Traverse City, Garfield Township, Acme Township, Peninsula Township, East Bay Township, and the village of Fife Lake.

“This is one of those rural versus urban” issues, Cooney said. “I think the more rural townships are less apt to want to pass a fireworks ordinance.”

In a case where someone is intoxicated and lights off fireworks, a person can be charged with misdemeanor violation of the state fireworks law no matter what day it is. Penalties are stiffer if there is property damage, and if a serious injury results, a felony can be charged.

Violations of the local ordinances, on the other hand, are civil infractions, similar to speeding tickets, which only carry fines. Penalties are more serious, however, if a person attempts to thwart an investigation or retaliates against someone who makes a complaint, Cooney said.

ONLY WARNINGS IN LEELANAU

In Leelanau County, deputies this summer have taken an educational approach to the new law, Undersheriff Steve Morgan said. Because there is still confusion about where and when exploding fireworks can be ignited, they’ve handed out warnings instead of tickets.

Most of the townships in Leelanau County have passed ordinances that restrict fireworks to national holidays. The more uniform the rules are across the county, the easier the fireworks rules will be to enforce, Morgan said.

On a typical summer weekend, deputies in Leelanau County get around a half dozen fireworks complaints, according to the department’s online summary of complaints.

Some weekends are busier: on Saturday, July 13, for example, there were seven illegal fireworks complaints in the span of just 90 minutes. By the time deputies arrived at those locations, which came from six different townships, the fireworks displays had ceased.

Leelanau County Prosecutor Joseph Hubbell said most townships have passed uniform fireworks ordinances. He said Solon, Kasson and Leelanau townships have not passed ordinances.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET CHARGED?

In the Grand Traverse County misdemeanor fireworks case, charges were filed after a sheriff’s deputy determined that Goodyear appeared to have been intoxicated when he shot off fireworks, according to a police report.

Deputies were called out to Spider Lake at around 6 p.m. July 5 after a witness said a firework landed on his pontoon boat and scorched his carpet, causing around $1,200 in damages.

The neighbor told deputies that he and his wife were out on their boat at 3 or 4 that afternoon, docked with some other boats near an island, when Goodyear arrived.

The witness said Goodyear wanted to set off mortar fireworks rounds over the objection of others gathered at the island.

The neighbor said “boaters, swimmers, people on the beach objected” because the fireworks were too close to people and their boats, according to the report.

He said Goodyear retorted: “I own the lake and I can do whatever I want,” and then shot two more rounds from his boat, using a foot-long tube with three-inch diameter. He lit the fuses with a propane torch.

The witness said that after his boat was damaged Goodyear told him: “send me the bill, I own the lake,” according to the police report.

FIREWORKS FOR THE CHILDREN

The law makes it a crime to set off fireworks while intoxicated.

It’s a 30-day misdemeanor, or a 90-day misdemeanor if the fireworks cause property damage. Cooney said the law does not specifically define intoxication.

Another witness described Goodyear as belligerent and intoxicated as he lit off fireworks, according to the police report.

The woman told police Goodyear insisted upon setting of the fireworks for the sake of the neighborhood children. The woman also said Goodyear drank around eight beers while he was out on his boat, according to the report.

Goodyear denied drinking prior to lighting off the mortar rounds in an interview with a deputy, but the deputy who wrote the report said he “slurred his speech, smelled of intoxicants and had bloodshot, watery eyes.”

He was asked to take a breath test which, according to the report, upset Goodyear. The deputy told Goodyear he would seek a fireworks violation charge against and the suspect “yelled at me and told me to do whatever I wanted to do,” the deputy wrote.

Goodyear did not return a message seeking comment.

PUBLIC SAFETY CONCERN

Cooney said there have also been a couple of civil infraction tickets issued in Grand Traverse County, but confusion over the new ordinances caused those tickets to be dismissed.

“The reason this seems like a patchwork is because the counties weren’t given the authority to regulate fireworks, it was local municipalities, townships and villages, cities,” he said. “We’ve got East Bay that passed their ordinance, we’ve got another ordinance that was passed in Garfield Township, another ordinance passed in the Village of Fife Lake, and they all may be slightly different. I think they tend to be very similar.”

In Grand Traverse County, as elsewhere, Cooney said his office and the sheriff’s department have agreed to enforce the local ordinances.

“I thought it was important because the law in Michigan, up until 2012, was these fireworks were illegal, and there was a good reason for that. There were concerns about safety, kids getting their hand blown off, fires being started,” he said.

 
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08.27.2013 at 08:52 Reply

I own a house on a small lake in Kalkaska county. I was appalled on July 4 when I realized that one of my neighbors was launching "sky lanterns" which are paper lanterns with an open flame within. They soar hundreds of feet above the ground, carrying their flame with them -- in this case right over my house which, like all the houses on our lake, is surrounded by pine forest. Talk about poor judgement!

 

 
 
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