A group of Saline County residents brought their frustrations and complaints to the Saline County Quorum Court on Tuesday, asking for help in silencing a neighbor alleged to be using fireworks and Tannerite on a nightly basis.
The residents claim that an individual in their neighborhood has been shooting fireworks and using Tannerite, a brand of explosive often used as a rifle target, on a nightly basis since June 2019.
“This happens every night,” said resident Jack Bennett. “I’m not talking about firecrackers, I’m talking about fireworks that jar the ground at night.”
Bennett said he does not have anything against fireworks as long as they are used appropriately during the allowed time. He, along with the other residents, all concurred that they are not asking for a law to change or fireworks to be banned, but for some action to be taken against the individual in question and the nuisance they claim his activities has become.
The residents also claim that the neighbor's actions have not only disturbed the peace, but caused damage to wildlife in the area.
“He doesn’t have any respect for any of these things at all,” Bennett said. “We need to do something and I’m asking y’all to help us.”
The residents have already placed calls to the Saline Country Sheriff’s Office who have already approached the man in question, but were told there are no law against what he is doing.
According to Saline County Attorney Clay Ford, there is currently no county ordinance that regulates the sale or use of fireworks. Furthermore, there is no ordinance that regulates noise, however, there is a state statute that regulates when fireworks can be sold and used.
“Potentially, the sheriff could cite someone for disorderly conduct,” Ford said. “What they would have to find is that [the action] was with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm or recklessly creating risk of public inconvenience or alarm or he or she makes unreasonable or excessive noise.”
Saline County Sheriff Rodney Wright agreed with Bennett that it’s not a question of creating new laws to handle the issue and that they should not punish the whole when it’s just one person.
“What I’m going to do is … take the state law that says (fireworks) can be purchased and used between this date and this date and combine it with the disorderly conduct law,” Wright said.
Resident Melissa Butler said that it’s not just fireworks that are the problem, but the individuals continued use of Tannerite. Butler said it started with fireworks in July and were not initially concerned because it was normal to hear fireworks during that time. However, Butler said since it has continued on a nightly basis for months after, usually lasting 45 minutes at a time, it’s become more than a nuisance.
“It’s a never ending thing,” Butler said. “It’s all the time ... it shakes the windows … rattles your house."
Resident Jeannie Bennett became emotional when addressing the court. She began keeping track of each explosion beginning Dec. 16 and read the times to the court.
On Dec. 16, she recorded explosions at 6 p.m., 6:43 p.m. and 7 p.m. The following day she recorded at 6:28 and 7:44 p.m.
“Think about this,” Jeannie said as she slammed her hand on the podium to indicate the constant booming sounds.
She continued on with her list recounting each explosion for each day with some days having up to five noted instances of explosions.
“This has gone on since the 25th of June,” Jeannie cried. “We’ve lived with this ... think about this folks. This is driving our livestock, our family pets, our wildlife, we have a pond that hasn’t seen a goose or a duck since January of last year.”
Jeannie also noted that on Jan. 20, a Tannerite cannon was used at 2 a.m.
“Please, help us stop this man,” Jeannie said. “He doesn’t just shoot off fireworks. He uses these Tannerite cannons that shook my daughter's windows, and she lives a little over of a quarter of a mile away. My dogs won’t go outside because of this … he’s a health hazard to people. He is a menace to wildlife and family pets. Please, we don’t want to change the laws. We want him stopped. We want him to show some respect for us. I don’t know how much more succinctly I can make this. You are the people who govern us, please help us put a stop to this.”
The Justices of the Peace asked Ford if he believed that the individual could be cited under the existing law.
“It’s very fact intensive,” Ford said. “If there are fireworks going off at all hours of the night, constantly, then I think there would be a great case that he is doing this with the purpose to annoy and alarm. If the sheriff’s office were to cite him, in my opinion, a district judge would find him guilty of disorderly conduct.”