Rock Springs City Council votes 5-4 to allow this year’s homecoming bonfire to include fireworks

Rock Springs City Council votes 5-4 to allow this year’s homecoming bonfire to include fireworks

ROCK SPRINGS – There is a lot of excitement and a lot of events that surround Rock Springs High School during homecoming week. This year’s homecoming bonfire will be a little different than ones in the past. On Tuesday, the Rock Springs City Council voted 5 to 4 in favor of fireworks at this year’s celebration.

At the meeting, two members of the Rock Springs High School Student Council, Lexi Newman and Hannah Harper addressed the council. Newman said this year’s bonfire will be on Sept. 10. She added they recently found out the homecoming bonfire is not just a school event but an event for the whole community.

The girls said they wanted to do things a little different for their senior year and include fireworks at the bonfire. Not a big fireworks show like the Fourth of July celebration the city has, but rather just a few purchased fireworks.

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Harper said  while they were researching what it would take to do this, they came across the insurance bond deposit required to include fireworks. Currently, the bond is set at $100,000. The girl’s also added the bonfire usually gets done around 9:30 p.m. and they wanted to light them off right before 9 p.m. Both Harper and Newman informed the council the fireworks would be lit by adults, mainly their parents.

Mayor Carl Demshar reported he recently had some young folks in his office discussing homecoming events such as the parade route, the bonfire and the possibility of lighting up the RS this year.

While the discussion went well, Demshar said there are still several issues which need to be addressed. One of the biggest issues Demshar brought up was the fallout zone of the fireworks, where they would be lit, where they would possibly land and the size of the fireworks.

Councilman David Tate asked the girls if they were going to purchase the fireworks. He said if the fireworks used are just the smaller ones, that would affect fallout zones also.

Rock Springs Fire Chief Lyle Armstrong told the council he talked to both young ladies about the fireworks before recommending going to the council to discuss the possibility. Armstrong said the $100,000 bond is set by International Fire Code.  Armstrong advised the city they needed to find out what fireworks would be used and the fallout zones from the fireworks before moving forward.

Rock Springs Fire Inspector David Rhoads also addressed the council. He echoed Armstrong and added either he or Armstrong should be there in case the wind or other factors became a concern so they could stop any fireworks from being lit.

Councilman Rob Zotti also commented on the proposal. Zotti said this event is a week away and had concerns there would not be enough time to get everything done they would need to get done.

“I support the high school in every way,” Zotti said. “I just think it is going to be very hard to meet all the requirements is such a short amount of time.”

The issue of who would be lighting the fireworks was also brought up by Councilwomen Glennise Wendorf and Rose Mosbey. Mosbey said she is a big supporter of the high school but felt not enough information was being provided to the council so they could look at all the aspects of the request. Mosbey said a list of who would be lighting the fireworks off and phone numbers should have been provided in case the city needed to communicate with them.

“You’re asking the city to take a leap of faith and without more information I just can’t support this request,” Mosbey said.

Former Rock Springs Firefighter and now city councilman Billy Shalata addressed the issue. He said the bonfire has historically been at the Vase Ballfields and will be again this year. He explained it is a very large area and there is not a lot that will burn in the area. Shalata said as long as there was proper supervision he did not think it would be a problem.

During the discussion, Tate made the motion to approve the request with several contingencies added including working with the fire inspector to make sure everything was good. Harper and Newman even invited Rhoads to go shopping with them.

Council members who voted for the request were Shalata, Tim Savage, Clark Stith, David Tate and David Halter while Zotti, Mosbey, Wendorff and Demshar voted no. Both Zotti and Mosbey again said they support the high school in every way but felt there was not enough time or information to approve the fireworks.

Demshar said for the record, his vote was also no for the same reason’s Zotti and Mosbey spoke about. Demshar did add a little advice to the girls and cautioned Newman and Harper about the event.

“You have a lot of responsibility now,” Demshar said. “Take a little time and make sure everything is as safe as it can possibly be.”