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Fairgrounds fireworks organizers to discuss possible cancellation

Organizers of the fireworks at the Nevada County Fairgrounds will decide early next week whether to go ahead with Independence Day celebrations after discussing the fire hazard with the state fire marshal, organizers said.

Meanwhile, city officials meet next week to formalize bans on private use of legal, safe and sane fireworks, and the leaders of the nonprofit organizations that benefit from the sale are wondering how they will recover money already invested in the sales.

More than 1,000 wildfires across the state this week have raised concerns among people about the dangers of even a public fireworks show at the fairgrounds amid the dry weather conditions.



The fireworks are approved for public displays by the state fire marshal, and firefighters with Nevada County Consolidated Fire Protection District would supervise lighting them off.

“We are waiting for input from the state fire marshal on Monday,” said Mary Anne Mueller, CEO of the Nevada County/Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, one of the organizers of the fairground festivities.




“If the fire marshal says, ‘No fireworks at the fairgrounds,’ we’ll have nothing at the fairgrounds,” added Cathy Whittlesey, executive manager of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

“It would be great if the fireworks event could go on. My concern is the parking,” said Tahoe National Forest spokeswoman Ann Westling. Fair and forestry officials are talking about alternatives, including running a shuttle.

“We have to work out an alternative and see if it’s feasible,” said Howard Levine, executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association.

A formal ban on private use of commercial fireworks is expected when officials from Grass Valley and Nevada City meet at their respective city halls at 5 p.m. Monday, officials said.

A number of Grass Valley nonprofits benefit from the sale of fireworks every year, including Sierra Christian Academy, the Nevada Union High School band, the Nevada Union High School choir, the Lyman Gilmore Band Boosters, Chicago Park 4-H Club, Calvary Bible Church, New Covenant Baptist Church and the Truth Worship Center, according to Jeff Wagner, fire inspector with the Grass Valley Fire Department.

The Lyman Gilmore band program raises about $5,000 each year from the sale of fireworks, Principal Brian Buckley said.

“We’ve spent about $1,000 in sales permits, according to our band director,” Buckley said. “We are hoping the city will return us those fees.”

The Lyman Gilmore band gets fireworks from vendors who receive a percentage from the sales, Buckley said.

“So the inventory isn’t the issue. It’s the up-front money that’s already been paid,” he said.

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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