As a proposal to repeal the ban on shooting off fireworks in Carthage gets another look from the City Council, the sons of the men who pushed the ban through in the 1940s spoke out about it.


As a proposal to repeal the ban on shooting off fireworks in Carthage gets another look from the City Council, the sons of the men who pushed the ban through in the 1940s spoke out about it.

H.J. Johnson, publisher of The Mornin’ Mail, said he found out through an interview with long-time Carthaginian Glynn Evans that the ban was put into place in 1948. Apparently fireworks terrified prized hunting dogs owned by Evans and the late Carthage business leader Bill Putnam Sr. so badly that a few of the dogs ran away during the July 4, 1947 holiday.

Johnson said Evans, who was on the Carthage City Council in 1948, told him that Putnam’s dog was killed when it was hit by a car after running away. Another hunting dog was found in Baxter Springs, Kan.

Evans proposed the ban in 1948, supported by Putnam and other residents, and it was approved 10-0 by the council sometime in 1948, according to Johnson.

Ron Evans, Glynn Evans son, confirmed that his father told him the same account. Ron Evans said his father is still alive but in poor health now.

“I’m still totally against allowing people to shoot off fireworks in the city,” Ron Evans said. “I still have dogs and they go nuts during the Fourth of July. There is supposed to be a ban but last year there were a group of kids walking down the middle of Main Street lighting bottle rockets and throwing them in the air. I told them to get out of here but they just walked down the street about a block and started shooting them again. Where are the police when you need them?”

Police Chief Greg Dagnan and Fire Chief John Cooper have proposed lifting the 62-year-old ban because it is simply unenforceable.

They’ve said police officers would spend all their time on the days around the July 4 holiday citing people and have little time for other law enforcement activities.

Dagnan said officers enforce the current ban on a complaint basis, meaning officers will cite someone if someone complains and the officers finds the violators the caller complained about.

The ordinance would still prohibit shooting fireworks in Municipal Park and would give the fire chief authority to prohibit shooting fireworks in times of drought.

Johnson approached the Council at its last regular meeting on Tuesday asking them to delay repealing the ban for one meeting to allow more time for public comment on the issue.

He said state statute prohibits shooting fireworks within 600 feet of a church, school or hospital, meaning even if the council repeals the local ban, fireworks will still be prohibited in large parts of the city.

Johnson produced a map he said was created three years ago by the city’s public works department with circles marking 600 feet around all the churches, schools and what was then McCune-Brooks Hospital, at Centennial and Hazel streets.

While the hospital has moved, the remaining circles show that the state statute would still prohibit fireworks in large swaths of the city, including all of the area around the Carthage Square, much of the residential area to the south of the square, and a large stretch of Grand Avenue north of the Carthage Roundabout.

Bill Putnam Jr., who served on the Carthage City Council with Johnson back in the early 2000s during one of the times when repealing the fireworks ban was considered, said he favored repealing the ban at the time, but also thinks the state statute would create more complicated enforcement issues for law officers.

“I think HJ’s got a good argument here, the state ordinance really is a can of worms,” Putnam Jr. said. “I was one who argued for lifting the ban, but it’s complicated.”

Putnam Jr., said he was not aware of his father’s role in creating the ban until Johnson first brought Evans’ story to light in 2002.

“I was 5 years old at the time so I don’t remember any of it,” Putnam Jr. said. “I thought the ordinance should be repealed and at some point in that process, HJ dug up that story that my dad and Glynn Evans were both bird-dog guys. It was interesting.”