Work release center could snuff out fireworks show

2013-06-11T17:59:00Z 2013-06-12T00:30:03Z Work release center could snuff out fireworks showStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 11, 2013 5:59 pm  • 

LAPORTE | Powerful fireworks shows that drew thousands to LaPorte last summer may be in jeopardy of returning.

The Pyrotechnics Guild International has LaPorte on its tentative convention schedule for 2016, but that could be moved up to 2015 in August when the upcoming dates are made official, PGI President Dan Creagan said.

The guild made plans for a return visit but LaPorte County's new work release center, which is under construction, is too close to where the fireworks must be shot off, Creagan said.

LaPorte County Commissioner Dave Decker said federal law prohibits fireworks of such strength from being set off within a certain distance from buildings occupied by people, and the work release center would house offenders 24 hours a day.

"They cannot shoot the fireworks where they did last year," Decker said.

An open field across from the fairgrounds along Ind. 2 is being eyed to accommodate a second PGI convention, but that site could interfere with the flight patterns on one of the runways at the LaPorte Municipal Airport about a mile away on Ind. 39.

As result, a variance is being sought from the Federal Aviation Administration in order to host the Pyrotechnics Guild convention at the alternate site, Decker said.

Decker said portable bleachers seating about 4,000 people at the fairgrounds can be moved the short distance to the open field site.

LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director Jack Arnett said he's optimistic and hopeful things will work out for the PGI to return.

He said the PGI convention brought a more than $3 million economic impact on the LaPorte area. 

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