LETTER: City, county focus on safety with burn banI respectfully disagree with the editorial of Sept. 6 which criticized both the County Commission and the City Council for the way each entity handled the burn ban and the special permits for the fiery events of the MHS homecoming.
By: Mel Olson, Mitchell city councilman, Ward 1
To the Editor,
I respectfully disagree with the editorial of Sept. 6 which criticized both the County Commission and the City Council for the way each entity handled the burn ban and the special permits for the fiery events of the MHS homecoming.
The County Commission passed a burn ban, as was its right and responsibility to do, given the drought conditions. The debate of the Public Safety Committee, and I emphasize the word “safety,” was not primarily on the jurisdictional issues per se but rather on the overall advisability of having open fires, in the case of the burning of the “M,” or combustables floating through the air, in the case of the fireworks, during this period of drought.
Marty Barington pointed out that the burning of the “M” would be attended by personnel and a truck from the fire department which made that very different in his mind from the question of fireworks. A fair point, I concede, and although the committee voted to proceed with both events, reservations were expressed about going ahead with floating fire in the sky during a drought by all members of the committee. That is why the language about not allowing it if the county burn ban was still in force was left in.
I’ve had some experience with fire and understand just how quickly, especially in conditions like we’ve had, it can get out of hand, which is why I voted “no.” Carl Koch, as the city attorney, jealously argued for and protected the jurisdictional prerogatives of the city vs. the county, as is his role in that job.
There are two issues here, the jurisdictional one over which there was some confusion and the issue of safety over which there was some disagreement. I think The Daily Republic stories and editorial inaccurately played up the former when the vast majority of the discussion and debate was over the latter issue of safety.