Mercer County Commission discusses issues with fireworks ordinance

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – The Mercer County Commission held a discussion on the county’s fireworks ordinance during their monthly meeting.

In 2019, a new fireworks ordinance was passed by the Mercer County Commission. This ordinance included measures that specified what days and times residents could set off fireworks. These days were specified for the New Years and Fourth of July Holidays, and forbid any fireworks from going off in residential neighborhoods. However, since it’s passing, many locals have had issues with the allowance of fireworks the ordinance provides. 

“They were not allowed to do them after midnight, but at three o’clock in the morning they’re still going off. You’ve got fifty pound dogs jumping up in the bed with you,” one local said.

Many locals are calling for increased enforcement of the ordinance, but the police already have a hard time cracking down on illegal firework use. The only way to prosecute it is to catch someone in the act, which is uncommon. According to County Commissioner Greg Puckett, the issue is community related. With or without an ordinance, residents will continue to set off fireworks illegally. 

“At some point we’ve got to get back to personal accountability. We can put forward ordinances all we want, we can go out and try to enforce them the best we can, but if people don’t have consideration for their neighbors, none of this is gonna be working. And that’s the biggest problem we have. People don’t have consideration for their fellow man,” Puckett said. 

The West Virginia Legislature allows the sale and ownership of fireworks, so a county can not just ban the sale of them altogether. Counties can ban their use, but residents have still been found to use them anyways. Mercer County passed the fireworks ordinance as a middle ground. The ordinance says firework tents pay the county a $100 setup fee, and a percentage of sales goes to local veteran groups. But the issue remains that many residents are still using fireworks outside the legal time frame. 

“We know that there’s a problem. If we don’t fix this problem, this is going to continue to exacerbate every single year. It’s gonna get worse and worse. So we need some help from our legislature, to allow us some additional authorities to take place at the local level.” 

Locals have reported fireworks going off in the middle of the night and on days weeks ahead or after the Fourth of July. This creates issues for veterans suffering from PTSD and also pet owners. The County Commission doesn’t plan to change the ordinance at this time, but is looking at other options involving the state legislature.

The County Commission plans to communicate further with the state legislature to help solve the issue.