It’s time for my annual pre-Fourth of July rant about fireworks. I have done this for the past several years and will continue until we ban fireworks in residential areas. The City of Maumelle allows a free-for-all each Fourth of July when fiery explosions are permitted from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.


The city ordinance states that “you can’t discharge in or around any group of 25 or more people; [fireworks] shall not be discharged in, on or from any public, commercial or industrial property but not limited to, parking lots, parks, fields, sidewalks and public roadways.” Huh?


I have opposed this accident-waiting-to-happen for several years, but the City Council hasn’t mustered up the fortitude to do away with fireworks as most municipalities throughout the state have. Why not? We have had several physical injuries through the years and it’s just a matter of time before there is a major house fire or even a death. Of course, that’s when we will ban them.


This not just a “kid thing.” Just two years ago, cornerback C.J. Wilson of the Tampa Bay Bucs lost two fingers and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants had his right index finger amputated, both due to firework accidents. Now their professional careers are in jeopardy.


There are many Maumelle neighborhoods where the street is actually blocked by an impromptu explosion show using some pretty powerful explosives with kids gathered all around the staging area. Pets are traumatized by the blasts. That’s not a huge worry, but I get several emails each year from residents whose animals sent into freak-out mode.


The City of Maumelle sponsors a fine fireworks show, albeit too short, and that’s how it should be. Leave it to the pros. Keep your digits, your vision and other body parts intact.


According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an average of 230 fireworks-related injuries nationally near and on July 4. In 2015, 11 people died from eight different fireworks-related accidents, including two who were not the person who lit the fireworks. The majority of the injuries are burns, primarily to the hands, fingers, head, face, eyes and ears.


So, the fireworks stands are already set up in Morgan. Do we get any tax revenue from their sales? According to Mayor Mike Watson, the tents are located outside the city limits, so we don’t make a dime on fireworks sales. It’s a lose-lose deal.


City Council: change this ordinance, or the next major accident will be your responsibility. If you agree with me, tell your alderman.


Former finance director drops the mike on the way out


It was only a few weeks ago that former Maumelle finance director Carolyn Korte sent a detailed email outlining several observations about our city finances along with an update on her April 17 resignation. She sent a two-page letter that contained a list of “Observations and/or Questions related to accounting transactions, policies, and procedures.”


The item getting the most attention was her statement: “There was 2017 Budget transfer made without council approval. Salary from the vacant HR Director position was moved to the Fire Department’s budget to cover cost over-runs in the construction of the Fire Station.” According to the Mayor, the council has approved the transfer retroactively.


Mayor Mike Watson has admitted the financial move was a mistake and apologized for the action. A couple of aldermen and others think we need an audit and are studying that possibility. We’ll take a look at some of the other issues outlined by Ms. Korte over the next few weeks. I’ll talk to the mayor and a few others and see what we come up with.


Meanwhile, the city has two key positions that seem to be difficult to fill. One is the vacancy created by the departure of Mrs. Korte. The other is the vacant position of human resources director. Both jobs pay pretty well, so let’s hope some folks step forward to apply. The mayor has told us he wants the finance position filled immediately. I don’t blame him.


Wal-Mart grocery pickup


Wal-Mart in North Little Rock introduced their version of grocery pickup last week. It works similarly to the Kroger version except the Wal-Mart website says that it is always free. Kroger charges a $5.95 fee to use the similar service. I have been using the Kroger service for several months and would never go back to in-the-store shopping. The only trouble I’ve had has been a few glitches in the online ordering. Pickup is fast and friendly. I usually tip each person a dollar, so I end up paying almost eight bucks and it’s worth every penny to me.


Maybe I’ll try the Wal-Mart service just to give it a try, but I can’t imagine the big-box store with a reputation for poor or inadequate service will be able to handle this. Let me know your experience if you try it out.


Another actor shows why they should stick to acting


Johnny Depp is an irresponsible idiot. His question of “how long has it been since an actor assassinated a president?” joins the classy move by Kathy Griffin holding up a bloody likeness of Donald Trump’s head and various others who used various award show podiums to outline their ideas of how the government should work.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Trump fan and I’ve been an actor, but I think actors should act, not use their fame to draw attention to their little pranks that are primarily designed to inflate their often-starved egos.


See you on the Boulevard.


Neal Moore is a public relations and advertising consultant and freelance writer. If you have a community concern, news tip or if you’re just irritated about something, contact him at neal.moore@sbcglobal.net. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.