Eagle Point cracking down on illegal fireworks, violators could face $500 fine

Eagle Point has made an adjustment in how they deal with fireworks. While it has always been against the law and a misdemeanor to use illegal fireworks, it has been very difficult to police. An officer has to have “probable cause” which means an officer has to determine who used the fireworks “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“The use of illegal fireworks creates a major risk of fire or other damage to the property of other persons,” said Eagle Point Police Chief John Meeker. “Private firework displays also often create a noise issue and disturb the peace and tranquility of many citizens of Eagle Point. Before you purchase illegal fireworks and explosive devices take this information into account and respect the rights of all citizens to live in a safe and quiet community,” continued Meeker. “We continue to need all citizens to help to keep Eagle Point a great place to live. If you have questions, please contact a police officer who can provide information and answer your questions.”

The new ordinance will allow a police officer who observes illegal fireworks or explosive devices emanating from a residence or a business to issue a citation to appear in Municipal Court to the person in control who knowingly allows devices prohibited by state statutes. 

Violation of the ordinance will be punishable by a fine of not less than $250 and not more than $500. The Ordinance creates an exception to those events permitted by the State Fire Marshal and the City of Eagle Point and the fireworks display conducted by a licensed pyrotechnic.

“Every year at graduation time, 4th of July and New Year holiday, the police department responds to dozens of fireworks complaints,” said Police Chief John Meeker, who wrote the new ordinance. “It is just a matter of time until we have a fire,” said Meeker.

Other action items included:
•Increasing density standards from 6.4 to 6.5 units per acre in the urban reserve area. This amounts to about one dwelling per 10 acres, according to City Administrator Dave Hussell.

• Adopting notice of election Nov. 2 for mayor and three city council positions.  Candidates for mayor are Bob Russell and Richard A. Tree; for the three council positions, Jonathan Bilden, Ruth M. Jenks, Kathy Sell and Leon C. Sherman .

• Resolution changing one name on check signing authorization. With the retirement of Meeker (he is now a contract employee until a new chief settles in) he can no longer be a signer on checks. Melissa Owens, finance officer, was authorized to be one of the check signers.

• Authorized a lease purchase of four electronic ticketing devices for the police department. This was a budgeted item to be financed over a three-year period. The cost is $36,000 over three years. It will scan the driver’s license, type the vehicle information, pick the violation, location and court dates. Once this is done, it prints the ticket. When the officer is done with the shift, files are uploaded to the court and to the police system. It will be a tremendous time saver, and improve accuracy. 

• Approved a resolution providing urban sewer connection for the Eagle Point National Cemetery. Because it is a federal agency it can request, and receive, approval for sewer and water connection even though it is outside the city limits. This approval was for sewer. The facility is getting ready to upgrade and to plan for an expansion.

A request from at Fahey, Southern Oregon Sanitation, to discuss a yard waste/organic waste collection program was received. He requested a series of short meetings. The council asked staff to communicate their interest in having a workshop.

Interviews with several candidates for chief of police were held last week. No recommendation was ready to be made to the council.

• Resolution to pay Anitra Kupalo $2,195.90 for damage to her vehicle from the tree branch that fell on her vehicle at city-owned property st 132 Loto St. On July 29.

Under audience comments, Steve Hunter had two kudos–he thanked the police department for the wonderful job they did to slow traffic in the golf community and he thanks Rob Miller for the fine job done by public works in replacing trees on Main St.

Bill Rutherford and Norm Jacobs expressed concern over weeds that are chocking the Buchanan Ditch through Eagle Point and that will soon cause flooding if the homeowners don’t cut the weeds. Rob Miller said the city can’t do anything until the irrigation season ends and then the city can give notice to homeowners. If they do not take care of the overgrowth, the city will come in and do it and placed a lien on the property. The residents were still concerned that this would not all be resolved before heavy rains. Blackberries creating vision problems and cars parked, perhaps moving just a few feet, day after day and not being driven, was another concern.

Chief Meeker said he would have officers look into the various concerns.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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