Friday, June 29, 2012

TOP STORY >> Heat puts squeeze on Fourth

Leader staff writer

Hot, arid weather conditions have put the brakes on individual fireworks use across most of the area and even one of the planned professional shows.

The Arkansas Forestry Commission has asked county judges to prohibit fireworks during the July 4th holiday because of the risk of fire. The commission considers the threat of wildfires as high in all 75 Arkansas counties.

In the local area, only Beebe is allowing residents to shoot fireworks. “We are asking them to be very, very careful,” said Mayor Mike Robertson.

Sherwood, not taking any chances, is dropping the fireworks show from its Fourth of July activities, but still has a number of events planned.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher made it clear at the city council meeting Thursday: “No fireworks in the city.” He added that even though the city has an ordinance that allows people with permits to shoot fireworks, the countywide burn ban takes precedent.

He said the city has received permission from the state fire marshal and county officials to have the fireworks show at the end of Sunday’s Patriotic Spectacular at Jacksonville High School and the Pennpointe community will have their Fourth of July fireworks show on the fourth at the subdivision’s lake.

“Both are being done by professionals and the fire department will be present,” the mayor said.

Police Capt. Kenny Boyd said the violation in Jacksonville for shooting off fireworks is a fine between $250 and $750, but no jail time.

He added that anyone shooting fireworks off and causing a fire or damage could be made to pay for all the damages.

Triple digit temperatures are expected to hit the region every day next week with highs running from 101 to 105 degrees. Central Arkansas also saw the mercury hit 101 on Sunday and 107 on Monday and Thursday

The forecast for the Fourth of July calls for highs around 101 degrees.

The record heat has already claimed one life in Fayetteville and is being blamed on the deaths of cattle in White and Cleburne counties, as well as other livestock around Arkansas, officials said Friday.

Earlier this week, a 39-year-old man working on construction at the University of Arkansas died from the heat.

Dustan Clark, extension veterinarian for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said he’s also had people report the loss of rabbits and pond fish. Heat is the chief suspect in some turkey deaths as well.

On Thursday, heat records were set at:

 Russellville, 109, broke the record of 105 set in 1952.

 Batesville, 108 degrees, broke record of 102 set in 1944.

 Jacksonville/Little Rock Air Force Base, 107, broke record of 100 set in 1980.

 Harrison, 106, broke record of 105 set in 1936.

 North Little Rock, 105, broke record of 101 set in 1980.

 Hot Springs, 105, broke record of 102 set in 1988.

 Fayetteville, 101, broke record of 100 set in 1954

 And Mount Ida, 101 tied the record set in 1936.

The dry conditions have put almost the entire state on burn bans and more than a third of the state has reached extreme drought stage, up from one percent just a week ago.


Sherwood’s 13th annual 4th of July Family Celebration will occur, but there will be no fireworks display because of the burn ban.

“We are putting safety first,” event coordinator Amy Jackson said.

But all the other activities are still a go and will be at 
6 p.m. at
Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave. Admission is free.

Jackson said there would be 
free hot dogs and water (while supplies last)
. There will also be food vendors with additional items for sale

Outside entertainment includes Janet, Denise and Bruce and Touch O’Grey.

Inside entertainment includes Top of the Rock Chorus and Cornerstone PraiSinger.

There will be free shuttle bus service from Sylvan Hills High School.

Besides no fireworks, 
 no pets, skateboards, bikes or coolers will be allowed, Jackson added.


Eddie Cook, the Cabot’s director of operations, said fireworks are not allowed to be bought, sold or used in the city limits even without the burn ban.

He said city officials had long meetings with county officials and the state fire marshal and received permission to go ahead with their fireworks show, which is part of a Fourth of July program sponsored by Mt. Carmel Church.

Cook said the activities are going to start later this year and that should help with the heat. Activities start at 7:30 and the fireworks show will be around 9 p.m.

“The fire department will have a very large presence at the show this year to be on the safe side,” he said.


The countywide burn ban means no one can use fireworks, but there will be a Fourth of July program sponsored by the Lonoke Assembly of God at the Lonoke ball park.

This is the first year for Freedomfest and there will be barbecue, music and games as well as a professional firework works show.

Activities will run from 3 to 9:30 p.m.


Beebe’s annual fireworks show starts at 6:30 p.m. at the city hall complex. Besides fireworks, there will be fun, an Elvis impersonator and a performance by Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers.


Ward’s annual Fourth of July picnic and fireworks show will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the city’s sports complex. The event will also include a car and motorcycle show. An honor guard will open the festivities at 2:15 p.m., followed by Carla’s Dance Group.

There will be numerous vendors, a tractor pull and music by Midnight Express starting at 6:30 p.m. The fireworks will start at dark.


First Baptist Church, 703 E. Second St., will host the community’s fireworks show on the Fourth.

At 6:30 p.m. a free catfish dinner with all the trimmings will be served indoors and then other activities and the fireworks show will follow.