In West Virginia, it’s now legal to buy and sell fireworks all over the state.
But in Wheeling, it’s illegal to shoot any fireworks into the air, or even to possess them.
So over the Fourth of July, Wheeling Police were swamped with calls from people reporting their neighbors setting off fireworks.
Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said if council wants police to respond to every fireworks call, they would have to create a special detail to do nothing but that, because otherwise they couldn’t cover all their other calls.
“In no way shape or form could we cover that domestic, that car flipped over in front of Luau Manor and all these other calls, and fireworks calls can’t take precedence over that, no way,” said Chief Schwertfeger.
He suggested a public education campaign on social media, if Wheeling was going to keep its fireworks ban.
He said if they insist on the police responding to fireworks calls, they’d have to make special accommodations.
“We can again assign a special detail to fireworks but that does make it difficult when half the Wheeling Police Department is assigned or detailed to Heritage Port for the 15,000 people that go down there for that wonderful event,” he said.
One councilman suggested preemptive strikes talking to families who are well known for having elaborate backyard fireworks.
“There are areas in South Wheeling and on the Island that are known as hot spots,” said Brian Wilson, council member. “There are families that get together and have their own post fireworks post fireworks show.”
Members agreed to work on a public education campaign.
Then they discussed a possible property registration mandate.
It would force rental property owners to register with the city, disclosing who they are, what they own, and how they can be contacted at all times.
The city solicitor said the court is already swamped with repeat cases, raze-or-repair orders, vacant property and cleanliness cases.
“So there is a personnel issue in regard to even filing the documents, etc.,” said Rosemary Humway-Warmuth. “And getting people registered, let alone the follow-up, the inspections and everything all funnels down to enforcement.”
Property owners gathered to speak on the proposal, but the safety committee decided to schedule public comment for another day.
They said they’ll alert the media and the public when they set the date and time.