Effingham City Council may be paying more than its usual contribution for July 4 fireworks this year.Effingham Firefighters Association (EFA) representative John Stroud asked commissioners Tuesday evening to consider donating $15,000 for the display — $5,000 more than the $10,000 the city contributed last year — if the organization cannot get the necessary funds in time.The dissolution of the Southtown Business Association, which has overseen the fireworks show the past several years, has put the new fireworks consortium, spearheaded by the EFA, between a rock and a hard place. However, those bent on providing the annual event are ready to raise enough money to ensure the same caliber of display as last year.“We're kind of late in the game here, and we're trying to get the funds together,” Stroud said to the council. “We do have some fund-raising plans in place.”Stroud expressed the hope that this would be the only year the city would be asked to bump up its contribution for the event.City Administrator Jim Arndt, who helped get last week's fireworks planning meeting together, said he had recommended the fireworks committee ask the city for a larger sum this year.“We are behind the eight-ball,” he agreed. “Hopefully the funds will be raised, and we'll contribute the ten ($10,000), but if necessary” the city can give more.Mayor Merv Gillenwater noted the effort of the group of businesses and organizations pulling together to provide for the community.“Thank you for taking this on,” he said. “For a while, we didn't think we would have any (fireworks).”Stroud told commissioners the location is up in the air at the moment as the committee searches for a location that will allow for grander a fireworks display.Stroud added the group has discovered that a requirement of 75 feet per inch of shell has hindered the search for potential areas, if the show is to include many high displays.Commissioner Matt Hirtzel, however, is concerned about the possibility of the fireworks being close to the expressways.Stroud said the group had discussed concerns with the proximity of potential locations to the heavy-traffic highways, and that safeguarding options are being explored with the Illinois State Police.“I'd recommend talking with IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation),” he said, saying the department may be able to add a special note to its message boards, explaining the fireworks.“The only problem is, we have so many message boards out there now … no one reads them anyway,” Gillenwater pointed out jokingly.The council will vote on the possibility of contributing additional funds at its next meeting on April 2.
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