Ephraim ‘strongly recommends’ citizens refrain from using fireworks
By James Tilson
EPHRAIM—A frustrated city council passed a resolution dissuading residents from using fireworks this year, instead of banning them altogether.
Citing a new state law that “prohibits cities from adopting a city-wide ban on fireworks,” the Ephraim mayor and council decided to comply with H.B. 38, which was passed by the 2018 Utah Legislature.
And instead of banning fireworks outright, the council is strongly recommending that residents abstain from discharging any ignition sources during this record breaking dry spell.
Mayor Richard Squire said, “We are strongly, strongly recommending no use of fireworks. And this law that was passed by the state was heavily lobbied by the fireworks industry. We can do our part to shut down that lobby by not buying fireworks this year. My family will not be buying fireworks this year, we’ll find another way to celebrate.”
During the discussion of the resolution, Ephraim Fire Chief Kerry Steck gave an update on the conditions around the city. “Too many weeds, way too dry,” was his assessment.
Steck said he would be keeping extra patrols around the city to check on conditions during the holiday. He will also keep his pumpers full at all times.
Council members discussed whether there was any way to utilize the new law’s prohibitions at all. The law stated a city may restrict fireworks to a designated area or areas. However, the city would have to provide a map for the city’s residents, and that map would have had to be submitted to the state in May.
And Chief Steck asked the council, “Where could we put the ‘area?’ There are dry weeds everywhere.”
Councilman Richard Wheeler made a half-serious suggestion. “If the state wants to regulate this, why don’t we tell people to set their fireworks off on Main Street, on a state road?”
In the end, the city settled for passing a resolution that said, “Residents are strongly discouraged from discharging fireworks and other potential ignition sources within the city’s limits during the 2018 season and may be held liable for costs of any resultant fire or damage caused by the negligent use of fireworks, and potential fire suppression.”
In Utah this year, mandated dates and hours for legal firework usage are July 2-5 and July 22-25 from the hours of 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.
The council also heard an update from Layne Jensen with Franson Engineers regarding bids they had solicited for drilling the new test well for the city’s culinary water.
Jensen first told the council that Franson Engineers had received only two bids, after soliciting every licensed driller in the entire state. Jensen said this indicated how this year’s weather had impacted the market. The bids were also significantly higher than other recent bids.
Jensen told the council, with the extra expense, more time was taken to discuss alternatives in order to save as much money as possible. He presented the three best options to the council:
First, drill a small test well. Second, drill a larger test well, and convert it to a larger permanent well. And third, drill a full-size well from the beginning.
Jensen and the city staff recommended the second option for several reasons. The second option coincided with the state’s standard procedure for municipal water wells, and Ephraim still needed the Utah Division of Drinking Water’s approval to go ahead with the project. The second option also did the best at reducing risk of missing a water source, and the cost of doing so. Jensen said, “It combines cost effectiveness, possible production and the least risk.”
Squires weighed in, “I think we are doing something to ensure the city’s future water supply; and we can’t afford to not do it right the first time, even though it might cost a little more.”
The council approved the lowest bid at $107,500, to use the second method.