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Tarpon extinguishes fireworks show
By KATHERINE GAZELLA
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 22, 2000
TARPON SPRINGS -- On the same night the Pinellas County Commission lifted its ban on fireworks, Tarpon Springs city commissioners decided the threat of fire was still too great to go ahead with their annual Fourth of July fireworks show.
Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to cancel the $17,000 fireworks show after fire Chief Harry Leonard said the ground in Tarpon Springs is still too dry. The fireworks would have been set off from the Tarpon Springs Golf Course on Pinellas Avenue.
"It would be very hard to explain why we did it and had a fire," Leonard said.
Leonard said he was concerned about fire even though the drought index in Pinellas County has dropped. On a scale of zero to 800, in which zero is a swamp and 800 is a desert, the county reached a level of more than 750 earlier this month, according to the Florida Division of Forestry. On Wednesday, the number was down to an average of 525 countywide.
Tarpon Springs has received about 2 inches of rain this month, less than half the rainfall other parts of the county have received, Leonard said.
The city plans to fulfill its contract with Great Show Fireworks by including a fireworks display in a Dec. 2 celebration. The city will have activities related to the 10th anniversary of the Pinellas Trail that day, and commissioners voted Tuesday to end the day's celebration with fireworks.
The contract requires the city to pay $14,000 for the fireworks. The rest of the cost of the display is covered by a $3,000 credit the city received because rain ruined some rockets during the fireworks show last year.
City officials said they will encourage residents to attend festivities in other cities where the fireworks will be set off over water.
Safety Harbor's fireworks will be set off from the shores of Tampa Bay near Seventh Street S and spectators can watch them from three spots: South City Park, the city marina and Safety Harbor Historical Museum on Bayshore Boulevard. Clearwater will launch fireworks from a barge in the Intracoastal Waterway. Largo and Dunedin officials previously decided not to have fireworks shows.
At Tuesday night's meeting, Tarpon Springs city commissioners also:
Approved a plan to restore brick streets in portions of the city instead of paving them. A revised version of the plan adds Chesapeake Drive to streets near the Sponge Docks, Spring Bayou and City Hall that will get their brick surfaces restored.
Approved spending no more than $475,000 on improvements to the city's wastewater treatment plant in an attempt to comply with state Department of Environmental Protection standards.
Earlier this year, the DEP cited Tarpon Springs for several violations at the plant, including failure to maintain equipment, not having a certified operator at the facility for at least two weeks and dumping partially treated sewage into the Anclote River. The city also has discharged treated wastewater into the river without first taking out the chlorine used to disinfect the water, according to DEP documents.
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