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Manteca extends legal fireworks sales thru 2014
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The use and sale of  safe and sane fireworks in Manteca will be legal through at least 2014.

The City Council Tuesday extended fireworks sales on a 3-1 vote with John Harris dissenting. Councilman Vince Hernandez, who is credited with the effort to legalize the sale and discharge of fireworks within city limits over five years ago, was not in attendance.

The council also decided to impose a $350 permit on each of the 14 non-profit organizations that get to sell fireworks each year in a bid to cover part of the fire department’s increased manpower for booth inspections. The actual cost had been put at $500 per booth. The organizations that are selected by a lottery process each year have not been charged for permits in the past.

Hilda Blair, representing Northgate Community Church, felt the permit was fair. She noted that the church cleared $18,000 from their booth in a previous year.

Mayor Willie Weatherford led the charge to lower the fee noting it was just taking money out of the pockets of non-profits that do a substantial number of community services the city doesn’t.

Harris was opposed to the fireworks due to safety concerns and the fact “they freak animals out.” He voted against legalizing the sale five years ago.

Weatherford said that most of the problems that continue are with fireworks that aren’t legal to sell anyway even with the city ordinance in place.

Council members noted that residents before the sale and use of legal fireworks were allowed drove to nearby cities to purchase them and still set them off in Manteca.

Proof of that was in the first year of legalized sales in Manteca when Ripon non-profits reported a sharp drop-off in sales.