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Mon, Dec. 09

No bucks for the bang: Kingman's July 4 to be fireworks-free

Shawn Walsh couldn’t secure city funding for a fireworks show, and circumstances converged this year to keep Kingman from having its usual show at the Mohave County Fairgrounds. (DOUG McMURDO/Miner)

Shawn Walsh couldn’t secure city funding for a fireworks show, and circumstances converged this year to keep Kingman from having its usual show at the Mohave County Fairgrounds. (DOUG McMURDO/Miner)

KINGMAN - The window of opportunity for a fireworks show in Kingman this Fourth of July closed so tight Tuesday a stick of dynamite couldn't open it back up.

The City Council for a variety of reasons denied resident Shawn Walsh's request for funds to help pay for a show, which he planned to hold at the sand drags north of Kingman across Route 66 from the airport.

The lack of time, insurance, and a funding source conspired against Walsh, who found himself trapped in a classic catch-22. The City Council required Walsh to obtain insurance for the show through the Acme Fireworks Company before it could seriously consider his request, but Acme won't pay for the insurance unless the company is assured it would get the contract.

Walsh contacted Acme after the City Council, through a chain of events, found it had nowhere to hold the show after the Mohave County Fairgrounds Board decided not to host the annual event.

The Tourism Development Commission held a special meeting last week and voted 4-0 in recommending the Council deny Walsh's request, as the $35,000 was slated to come out of tourism funds, which are generated through lodging taxes.

TDC Chairwoman Crystal Burge said the commission supports a fireworks show, but did not believe it was appropriate to use tourism funds, which are supposed to be used for events that put "heads in beds."

Mayor Richard Anderson and Councilwoman Jen Miles were not in attendance Tuesday, but none of the five remaining members voiced support for Walsh's plan - though each one of them commended the lifetime resident and college student for his willingness to get involved in the community.

If any of them had any support for Walsh, City Attorney Carl Cooper convinced them to reconsider. Cooper noted the city is one of four defendants in a multi-million lawsuit related to catastrophic injuries suffered by a pyrotechnician at the 2013 show. The fair board and the now-defunct Kingman Boomers, which collected donations for the city to use in contracting with fireworks companies from 2012 to 2014, are also defendants, along with the New York-based importer.

Cooper said the lawsuit alleges the city knew or should have known that fireworks shows are "inherently dangerous." While he doesn't consider the city's exposure to liability that strong in the current lawsuit, that culpability would increase dramatically if the city rushed into putting on a show this year and something were to happen, he said.

Walsh said he has already collected about $5,600 from various businesses and other donors in Kingman to help with the costs and he said he would continue that effort, but he admits he's got a tough road ahead.

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