Wichita County Authorities Planning Fourth of July Patrols

- If you drive down Wichita County roads in the next week-and-a-half, you'll see plenty of signs warning you to not shoot fireworks in ditches.

Barry Mahler, precinct three commissioner, says, "Russell Nettles from Russell's Fireworks had these signs made. He made 500 of them for the county."

They are a reminder to everyone that it is illegal, all the time, with or without other restrictions, to set off fireworks on any public road, ditches and right of ways.

"That's a state law and it's been that way forever," Mahler says. "Most people don't realize that. You've got to do it on private property."

Though it's been a state law for years, as is the law against littering, many Fourth of July celebrators continue to violate it.

Jerry Pruett, precinct three foreman, says, "There's a lot of trash all throughout the county. All four precincts. We usually have to go pick up half a dump truck load after the Fourth of July. Sometimes they'll set the ditches on fire too."

That's why county authorities will be out in full force this Independence Day.

Wichita County Sheriff David Duke says, "We're going to enforce the litter laws and make them pick up their garbage. We are going to write citations. We'll be writing tickets for shooting fireworks on the roadway."

Sheriff Duke says the citations won't stop there.

"The unfortunate thing is some people don't think what they're doing when they show up at a place on Seymour Highway, like a business such as a chemical company and shooting their fireworks off because they don't know what place they're sitting in," Duke says. They just know it's an open parking lot full of gravel. That's trespassing."

He says deputies will be patrolling the county and asking people on private property to prove they have permission to be shooting fireworks there.

Remember: you have to have the landowner's permission to shoot fireworks on their land and the landowner or business has to register with the county sheriff and volunteer fire department at least 12 hours before the activity.

Duke says if you receive a ticket this Fourth of July, those fines range from $500-$1000.

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