“That kind of thing is going on all over the state right now,” said Danville Fire Chief Woody Ball.
Assistant Police Chief Tony Gray said officers have been responding to more noise complaints and possible gunshots this year.
“I don’t have any numbers in front of me, but it seems to me that, because of the change in the law, we are taking more calls earlier than we have in the past,” Gray said Wednesday. “It has increased the call volume. And any time someone says ‘I think I heard a gunshot,’ that’s at least a two-officer call, so it does make for some extra work.”
While the new law is adding some burden to police and fire departments, it is giving others a chance to make, or save, some money.
Brenda and Donald Cundiff of Dunnville in Casey County spent $62 on fireworks at the Cornerstone tent Wednesday morning. The couple don’t always shoot off fireworks on the Fourth, but when they have in the past, they always drove to Tennessee to get the good stuff. Being able to make the purchase in Danville saved them time and gas money when they decided to put on a little show this holiday season, they said.
“I’m just in a festive mood, I guess,” Brenda Cundiff said. “Maybe because of all the rain we’ve had, but I want to have a little fun this year.”
Pam Lane said Cornerstone has been selling fireworks at Walmart for nearly 20 years, usually raising between $7,000 and $8,000 annually to help fund mission trips. With a bigger and better arsenal on hand this year, Lane said the tent has been busier than usual.
Cornerstone and the Church of God both use TNT Fireworks of Florence, Ala., as their supplier. Lane said TNT specializes in non-profit fundraising and provides the inventory, tents and signage, and training for its representatives, which get to keep 20 percent of what they sell.
Across the way at Danville Manor shopping center, Stephen Hawkins and Brian Hostutler of Virginia are manning a fireworks tent operated by Tracy and Jason Foust of Knoxville, Tenn. The Fousts have four tents in Tennessee and, this year, five in Kentucky, Hawkins said.
“It’s been pretty steady so far, but everybody says that a couple of days before the Fourth, it will really get packed,” Hawkins said.
Recent graduates of Virginia Tech University, Hostutler and Hawkins said they got the job selling fireworks by answering a Craigslist ad for a summer job. They were looking for a little adventure before they begin their real careers. They got to Danville a week ago and have been sleeping in a pup tent beside the fireworks tent and taking showers at the truck stop.
“We open when we wake up and close when we go to bed,” Hawkins said. “It’s something different. It’s been kinda fun, hanging out here and meeting new people.”
Ball, the fire chief, said there was some confusion over the new law when vendors started showing up last week.
“All of a sudden, tents started popping up,” he said. “There was a learning curve for us, the state fire marshal and the fireworks people.”
To sell fireworks in Danville, a vendor must get a state permit for $250, a Danville permit for $100, a $25 city business license and a Planning and Zoning fee based on the square-footage of the tent. Some cities such as Owensboro and Bowling Green charge $1,000 or more to sell fireworks, Ball said.
“We wanted to be business-friendly," he said.
P&Z put temporary stop work orders on three of the vendors because they hadn’t paid all their fees, but that confusion was cleared up early on, and there have no problems since, Ball said. The businesses are inspected upon opening and regularly thereafter, he said.