CHIPLEY -- With no discussion or objections from the public, Chipley City Council voted Tuesday to continue its Independence Day fireworks program for this year.
The unanimous vote perhaps signaled a shift in public opinion. During budget talks in September last year, council member Brett Butler supported and shared views of a handful of residents who had opposed the City spending $10,000 on Independence Day fireworks, stating his constituents enjoy it "but it's a lot of money spent for entertainment that we can get more bang for our buck elsewhere."
The council approved funding for the program last year. Tuesday's vote confirmed that the City would use the funds to sponsor it.
"There were some comments from the audience one night that the funds could be better spent in other places," Mayor John Sasser said. "Some of the council members discussed it. This is the first actual voice of their opinion."
The City began sponsoring the program in 2014 in response to dangerous activities involving individuals -- mostly juveniles -- firing off illegal fireworks which resulted in damages to patrol vehicles and other property within the Chipley Housing Authority complex.
Police officials stated in September that City-sponsored fireworks had not "mitigated the problem to the extent to what it was created for."
The program has since sparked more than attention to safety.
"I had several comments last year that they really enjoyed it, comments from people passing through that say 'hey, we'll stay for a little while to watch the fireworks,'" Sasser said. "So, I think it's a good thing for the city and community spirit."
In other business, the council approved a mutual aid agreement between Chipley Police Department and Panama City Beach Police Department, which allows the departments to share law enforcement services and resources.
Also, the council unanimously approved a request by Washington County Historical Society for permission to salvage pine wood from the attic at the Chipley Light and Power building. The group will use the wood to cover a wall or use as a backdrop at the museum in an effort to preserve local history.
The following individuals were approved for appointment or reappointment on the five-member Code Enforcement Board: Kevin Russell, Suzan Gage, Barbara James, Tamara Donjuan and Crystal Zuraff. Holland Kent was reappointed for an additional three years on the Planning and Zoning Board. And Darlene Harper and Damien Potter were approved to serve on the Community Development Block Grant Citizens Advisory Task Force.
Chipley City Council meetings are held 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at City Hall, 1442 Jackson Ave.