A Newton resident who in 2019 brought elected officials a bag of pyrotechnics debris to illustrate his opposition to the city’s fireworks ordinance was back Monday, Aug. 2 to argue his point again, urging the council to reconsider its thoughts on the matter.
Jerry Kelley presented the Newton City Council with data he researched from the Iowa Department of Public Health regarding fireworks. He claimed fireworks-related injuries more than doubled since 2017, the same year Iowa legalized the sale and use of fireworks. Kelley said state data also points to more child injuries.
“According to this data, patients are now younger and more seriously injured and are usually the handlers of fireworks rather than bystanders,” Kelley said, noting children have been disproportionately affected. “The most significant change is an increase in amputations, mostly to fingers.”
Kelley also claimed fireworks were for sale this year at 583 licensed sites throughout the state, adding that 2020 saw a 50 percent increase in fireworks injuries nationwide. Emergency room visits, he said, rose up to 15,000. Kelley also drew attention to the fireworks smoke causing respiratory issues.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to pull the plug on this deal,” Kelley said. “We’ve been doing this for four years and it doesn’t get any better. This data shows it trends negatively. I have talked to a lot of different people and nobody tells me that it’s positive and nobody tells me that they’re real happy with this.”
In Newton, fireworks usage within city limits is limited to 8-11 p.m. July 4.
Kelley suggested “we all know” that curfew is not followed. He also asked the council to provide him with how many citations were issued and fines paid in the past few years. Newton Mayor Mike Hansen said the city would provide that information to him.
Newton Police Department told Newton News it received 107 fireworks calls this year and issued six citations, down significantly from 2020 in which 220 calls were made and 22 citations issued. In 2019, the police department had 103 calls and six citations; the year before that 119 calls and six citations.
In closing, Kelley argued pets don’t like fireworks, and he sympathized with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who may be triggered by the sounds of exploding shells.
“I’ve had enough explosions and concussions and noise and racket and destruction to last me the rest of my life,” Kelley said. “And if I don’t have any more of that, I’m fine with that. If people want to celebrate this grand holiday that we have, they shoot all kinds of fireworks out here east of town.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org