There’s still no final decision on the city’s July 4 fireworks display after council discussed the issue Monday night with Henry County Health Commissioner Mark Adams.
Council voted 4-2 to cancel the fireworks display for this year if Gov. Mike DeWine doesn’t change the health orders, especially those on large gatherings. Dissenting were council members Jeff Comadoll and Molly Knepley. It was unclear due to technical difficulties during the virtual meeting whether Councilman Dan Baer voted yes or no.
Many council members were in favor of postponing the event until August, September or possibly even November, but others felt if the event couldn’t be held on July 4 it should just be canceled.
Adams said the health department would work with city officials if they decided to hold the event, but he urged caution.
“I just don’t want to be the person that has to report a death, if it can be avoided at all,” Adams said.
He added he doesn’t anticipate a COVID-19 surge in Henry County, and commended residents for limiting spread here, but warned that could change if people come from outside counties that have been hit harder.
He pointed out there have been no cases in any Henry County nursing facilities and no deaths in the county.
“That’s not a fluke,” Adams said.
He also said he anticipates August to be the time when things may open up more in the state, but that is his opinion and not based on any information he has received from the state.
Mayor Jason Maassel said he wants to get back to normal also, but isn’t sure about the city going against state orders.
“How do we tell (Napoleon Police) Chief (Dave) Mack to enforce the law when we don’t follow it?” Maassel asked. “I think having a publicized Fourth of July fireworks display is not in the best interest of Napoleon.”
Napoleon City Manager Joel Mazur said the city went ahead and signed a contract with the company it has worked with for more than 20 years, but Napoleon has until June 12 to decide if it will hold a display or not.
If the city decides to cancel before that date, it will pay the company half of the $24,500 fee, which will be applied to next year’s display. However, if cancellation is made after June 12, the city pays 40% of the fee to the company and loses it.
All city council members agreed they wanted to have the display, but there are concerns about stretching the police force too thin, large gatherings violating public health orders for COVID-19 and masses of people coming from outside the county, potentially leading to a surge of COVID cases in Henry County.
“It’s a huge dilemma for us, I don’t know how else to put it,” said Mack.
He added the event in a normal year taxes the resources of his department, without the extra regulations.
There was also some discussion on possible July 4th activities that could take place, but no decision has been made.
In other business, council:
Approved first reading of legislation to amend the water and sewer rules and to apply for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for expenses related to COVID-19.
Passed, under suspension of rules requiring three readings, an ordinance to create a Downtown Revitalization District.
Approved second reading of a resolution for the 2021 tax budget.
Passed final reading of a resolution allowing the city to apply for Community Housing Improvement Program funding.
Approved a change order of $79,453 for phase one of improvements to the waste water improvement plant.
Approved plans and specifications for improvements to the Glenwood Avenue water line.