Monday, June 25, 2012

Mike’s Column: Maine’s “business friendly” fireworks law

  Shortly after Gov. Paul LePage took office, he embarked on a statewide tour with some of his commissioners to gauge public opinion on rules and regulations that were allegedly strangling the economy.
  It turned out to be of the most positive accomplishments of an administration which has taken its share of beatings by the mainstream media – some deserved, I might add.
  The jury is still out on whether the addition of the touchy-feely “Business Friendly Designation” program was worth the effort. Only 19 towns applied for the award and nine were selected. The paperwork was thick enough to choke a full-grown moose.
  Then there was the legislature’s decision to legalize fireworks for the first time in about 50 years. Supposedly, the law was pushed by some Western Maine lawmakers who were tired of seeing revenue slip across the border to New Hampshire where fireworks have been legal for decades.

  This week, we’ll get our first taste of legal pyrotechnics in Maine. With Fourth of July on a Wednesday, I imagine we’ll be hearing the booms and seeing the skies light up right through next weekend.
  Sorry, but the prospect doesn’t exactly make me jump with joy. I see no entertainment value in setting off firecrackers in your dooryard, thus scaring the crap out of small children, old people and domestic animals.
  And while fireworks are a lot safer now than they were 20 or 30 years ago – the really loud M-80s and cherry bombs are still illegal in Maine – you’re still dealing with a gadget filled with gunpowder that either blows up or sends projectiles skyward. Or at least you hope they do.
  Several years ago, a municipal-sponsored fireworks show at a lakeside community took an unexpected turn when one of the rockets went off on the barge instead of soaring to the skies. I would have hated to have been a passenger on that boat.
  In all fairness, I haven’t heard of too many mishaps in a controlled fireworks display. Unity Raceway used to have a great Fourth of July bash and drew more people to that show than any regular race night.
   But I’ve got strong reservations about consumer fireworks. I like peace and quiet in my neighborhood. Sirens are so infrequent that I rarely turn on my scanner.
   Gunshots are usually heard around here only during hunting season in daylight hours. Firecrackers will probably be set off all evening, even though state guidelines prohibit pyrotechnics after 10 a.m. Talk about something that will be hard to enforce.
  Nevertheless, the law is the law. It did create some jobs. We now have a bunch of fireworks stores that will be jammed with customers this week acting like kids in a candy store.
  Fireworks don’t scare me. I was a drill sergeant and rifle marksmanship instructor in the Army Reserves for over 20 years. Loud noises were a way of life.
  Now, however, I prefer peace and quiet.
  I may not get as much of it during Fourth of July week.

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