REDINGTON SHORES – The town’s July Fourth fireworks display that was almost called off when the usual vendor pulled out, then saved in an effort by the mayor, failed to happen after all. A fireworks delivery foul-up doomed the show in Redington Shores, Mayor MaryBeth Henderson said at the July 10 town commission meeting.
“I want to say how disappointed we were that the fireworks event was canceled,” Henderson said. She explained what happened on the Fourth, and the failed outcome.
The company she hired to do the fireworks display sent the shooter and fireworks rack that arrived about mid-day. But no fireworks. Those were coming by truck, which was making its deliveries. The day turned into evening, but still no fireworks, Henderson said.
“Then, we got a call about 9 o’clock that the display truck had dropped off fireworks in Anna Maria Island. That would have put him in Redington Shores about 11:30.”
“Due to safety concerns about setting up in the dark, police and fire officials were consulted and we made a decision to call off the show,” the mayor said. Thousands of spectators waiting to see the show were told it was not going to happen.
Henderson said fireworks set off by residents in the area, though illegal, were bright spots that helped save the celebratory evening.
“Some people did not even realize the town’s display had been called off because of the quality of fireworks shows the residents put on at the beach and in their yards,” Henderson said in comments after the meeting.
Police Chief Richard Swann also said residents on the beach saw “some good fireworks” in spite of the town canceling their show.
“There were fireworks up and down the beach, so they still got a show,” Swann said. “It wasn’t as fantastic as they were expecting, but they still got a show.”
Henderson said the town is being reimbursed by the fireworks vendor for all expenses connected with the failed show, including the overtime hours put in by safety officials and town staff. She also said the vendor is facing a number of lawsuits from communities that were also left in the dark on the Fourth.
“They just overbooked,” Henderson said.
A local resident who does fireworks events has stepped forward with the promise of a spectacular show for next July Fourth. He is Ken Speed, who heads Ken Speed Special Effects. Speed was at the meeting and said he would do a fireworks show on Labor Day, but the commission decided to wait until the Fourth of July next year. Speed also said he is fully licensed to do pyrotechnic shows.
Another plus — “I’m a resident,” Speed said. “I can walk to the show site.”
Henderson said Speed will make sure “we never have this problem with our fireworks again.”
Turtle activity is up
The Redingtons are having “a very active turtle season, and we need to do everything we can to protect them,” Henderson said. She urged residents to “be mindful of the turtles” by turning flashlights off, removing articles from the beach after dark and filling in any holes that are dug on the beach.
Redington Shores is putting up signs at the beach accesses that explain the rules for protecting the turtles.
Swann also said turtle activity is up. He said Fish and Wildlife Commission officials told him “there are more nests between the Redingtons and Indian Shores than there have been in years.”
One two-block stretch has 14 nests, Swann said. “Residents should keep obstacles off the beach to encourage the turtles to make it back,” he said.
Millage rate to stay at 1.8 mills
The commission decided to leave the town’s millage (property tax) rate at 1.8 mils, which is currently the third-lowest rate in the county. It was lowered from 2.0 in 2017.
The town’s Financial Advisory Committee had recommended keeping the rate at 1.8. The committee plans to take a close look at the town’s financial position in the coming months to see if the millage rate could be lowered in the future, Commissioner Michael Robinson said.
Auditor Richard Cristini was on the agenda for his annual audit report, and said that the town’s finances were “all good.”
“This was a good year for the town,” Cristini said. “Revenue exceeded what you thought you would receive, and expenses were less than what you expected to spend. The town is operating as intended.”
Deputy town clerk position filled
Sarah Mauter will become the deputy town clerk on July 29. Mauter is currently with the Indian Shores Police Department, where she is administrative assistant to the Chief of Police/ Dispatcher/ Investigator.
Swann said of Mauter, “You are getting a good employee. Very smart, very adept. She will do well here.”
Swann also said having Mauter at Redington Shores Town Hall “will be an asset for us as well.”