Fireworks display scheduled Labor Day at old airport site

Area residents who were disappointed that no fireworks displays were presented locally during the Fourth of July holiday can look forward to a special Labor Day event in Benton.
A fireworks extravaganza is planned Sunday, Sept. 2, at the old Saline County Airport site, city officials have announced.
The Independence Day fireworks shows in Saline County were canceled because of drought conditions and fire danger. The county was under a burn ban, as were most counties in the state during the holiday period.
Fire Chief Bill Ford and Police Chief Kirk Lane, on July 2 would not approve the city's annual fireworks show that was planned in conjunction with the Freedom Fest at the old Saline County Airport site.
"We found it necessary to make this decision in the interest of public safety based on the extremely dry conditions that existed at the time," Ford said.
"Since then we have experienced a break in the extremely dry conditions and lifting of the countywide burn ban," he said.
"At this time we see no reason why that we cannot celebrate the Labor Day holiday with a fireworks show presented by the Benton Parks Department at the old Saline County Airport," Ford said.
"I want to stress, however,that even though we are no longer under a burn ban, we are still considered under a high fire danger classification and everyone still needs to practice caution," he said.
"We do want to sincerely thank our citizens for being extra cautious during the past couple of months," Ford added. "It was because of responsible behavior that we did not have any major problems as other communities experienced."
Benton Mayor David Mattingly noted that County Judge Lanny Fite notified the city on Monday that the county burn ban affecting Benton and Saline County had been lifted.
"As a result, Benton Fire Chief Bill Ford and Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane have agreed to sign off permitting the fireworks display to be held on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012 beginning at dusk, (approximately 8:45 p.m.) at the old Saline County Airport behind Holland Chapel Baptist Church," he said. 
Mattingly referred to the unfortunate circumstances that made it necessary to cancel the Fourth of July fireworks show, which traditionally has attracted thousands of spectators.
He indicated he believes the Labor Day event will be well received.
"Labor Day has always been an important holiday to the American public and certainly to the citizens of Benton and Saline County," Mattingly said.
"We hope you all enjoy this presentation by our city parks department."

***Published earlier today in The Saline Courier. A selection of our local stories is available online, but for complete coverage of news, events and sports in Saline County, subscribe to our print edition today!