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OTTUMWA — Independence Day fireworks caused frustration from two different perspectives this year.

During Tuesday's Ottumwa City Council meeting, City Administrator Philip Rath briefly discussed the issues regarding the public fireworks show, while resident Kristy Mundt expressed frustration with the nonstop fireworks show in her neighborhood.

Mundt did not see the city's fireworks display, but knew others were taking place near where she lives on Cherry Street.

"It sounded like a war zone outside for two solid weeks prior to July 4," she told the council. "It was 1:30 a.m. before they stopped. I called the police three nights in a row, but they were so busy, but when people see the police coming, they don't do it."

The city's fireworks ordinance is for July 4 only, from 4-10:30 p.m. State law allows citizens to buy and sell fireworks.

"We don't need to sound like we are in Iraq or Afghanistan to celebrate our independence from England," Mundt said.

Mayor Tom Lazio was sympathetic toward Mundt, as he heard many complaints as well.

"I've shared with the council a number of messages on my phone at home, emails and messages here at the office," he said. "I think I had more complaints about fireworks this year than any time in the past. It was certainly loud in our neighborhood, too, and for people with animals that seems to be a real problem."

Lazio also recommended Mundt reach out to her state legislators about fireworks, and councilwoman Holly Berg noted the city's reach is limited.

"Even if the city says they're not allowed, we are not allowed to not allow them to be sold in the city," she said. "The state has taken that control away. So the only control the city has is to enforce not allowing them to go off at times, but unfortunately we have no control over their sale or distribution."

On another front, Rath expressed his frustration with the public fireworks display during his report early in the meeting, referring to posts on social media. A Facebook post said the show started "at 10:02 instead of 9:30," and that "...wasn't sure if it was over."

"It was my understanding this was not a cost-saving measure and, as far as the display, there were some technical difficulties that occurred with the presentation," Rath said.

In an email Wednesday, Rath said the city contributed the same $15,000 it does every year for fireworks. J & M Displays was contracted to provide the show, but there were "electronic problems related to the firing system for the fireworks."

"I've contacted them, and they were apologetic for the issues and are in the process of determining what percentage of the fireworks did not light," he said. "We talked briefly about options to remedy the reduced quality display, maybe a credit or other obligation, and we'll follow up in the near future to determine the final resolution."

— Chad Drury can be reached at, and on Twitter @ChadDrury


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