Lebanon’s fireworks will go on as planned Sept. 11.
In a close vote during city council’s Tuesday meeting, councilors opted to continue as planned with the fireworks display set for Sept. 11, despite requests to reconsider the date.
“9/11 should be a day of solemnity,” said retired Sgt. Major Russell Ryan, who cited the thousands of people killed Sept. 11, 2001 as well as those who have since been mobilized and killed in action.
Councilor Fred Burton read a constituent’s letter, which also asked that the date be reset.
“I tend to agree,” said Burton. “I don’t think we need to celebrate.”
Burton proposed a resolution, which was seconded by Kathy Warmath, to suspend the fireworks on that day and instead memorialize the fallen by lowering flags to half-staff and discharging a 21-gun salute.
Councilor Rob Cesternino, however, disagreed with both the resolution and the rationale behind it.
“There’s going to be people on both sides of this issues, but my constituents have been far more saying, ‘we’re not celebrating this day, we’re commemorating,’” said Cesternino. “I think that it’s gotten kind of convoluted that we’re having this ceremony to celebrate 9/11, and I don’t think that’s right.”
He further said he believed the resolution was inappropriate.
“The mayor is elected; he’s the commanding officer of this city,” said Cesternino. “As far as I’m concerned, we gave the commanding officer the opportunity to make the decision; he made the decision. We may not agree with it, but I don’t think it’s right for us to have a resolution every time the mayor – who is elected to run the city day-to-day – for us to do a resolution to stop him from doing his job.”
The vote came to a tie, with Lanny Jewell, Burton and Kathy Warmath voting to suspend the fireworks and Cesternino, Joe Hayes and Tick Bryan voting to continue with the fireworks.
Mayor Philip Craighead cast the tie-breaking vote to continue with the fireworks.
“Patriots Day is not a day for the fireworks,” said Craighead. “The day will be held – and the events that will be there – will be held in a way in which they do honor the sacrifice of not only the soldiers and firemen and policemen and citizens, but [also] where we’ve come from, how we’ve moved forward and basically make a statement that terrorism is something that we don’t take lightly and we’re always going to do everything that we can to prepare.”
Along other lines, councilors Tuesday approved on first reading an ordinance to add a one-step employee compensation increase to the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year budget.
“I don’t think the employees understand that the $300 bonus that was built into the budget doesn’t really give them any kind of elevated status, doesn’t raise their pension, doesn’t raise the longevity of their pay -- it doesn’t do anything except give some more bonus,” said Warmath. “I put this [ordinance] on here in consideration of our employees that received the bonus in lieu of the increase.”
Councilors approved the ordinance with plans to meet in a work session to further discuss the details of such an action before considering it on a second reading.