GOOD NEWS: Fireworks July 3rd.
BAD NEWS: Fireworks July 3rd.
Posted: June 11, 2020
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
Blog by Ted Stimpfel
The Newberry CSD board did a reversal during a special
(mostly unpublicized) board meeting on June 10th and the board decided
to host the traditional community fireworks show on July 3rd.
The board had previously decided not to host the event
due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Barstow and most of the other High Desert
communities have canceled all of their July 4th events for the safety of their
residents during the pandemic.
The original cancellation of Newberry's 2020 fireworks
did not seem to sit well with Director Paula Deel who had directed a sizeable
portion of the community's billboard funds to pay for the event.
During the special CSD meeting, Fire Department Administrator
Daphne Lanier stated that she has handled a number of calls from residents
asking about the fireworks for this year.
Director Victoria Paulsen supported Paula Deel's comments
and then all the other directors lined up in support for the fireworks show.
The vote was unanimous. Even Director Larry Clark, attending the
CSD's webinar meeting, voted for the fireworks. I believe that this
was the first board meeting that he has attended this year.
The only dissension was public comments from myself.
Normally, I would not be writing this because to most readers, I know that
I will be sounding like an old, unpatriotic Scrooge. But as I am not
planning at this time to run for a CSD seat in the November election, I will
address my concern.
I consider the CSD directors' approval to host the fireworks
as reckless. I see the fireworks show as an unnecessary risk
to the community and I support the caution by the other communities.
Probably, more than most people, I have been closely monitoring
the COVID-19 pandemic. The only reason that life is getting back to normal
is because of the economic factors. The pandemic is still very much alive
and killing tens of thousands.
Just because there is an economic need to open up the economy,
so that people can put food on their table, doesn't mean that we are safe.
At the time of this writing, the number of known COVID-19 cases
in Adelanto is 98, Barstow 23, Victorville 284 (referenced left). So the
virus is out there.
With many firework shows having been canceled in Barstow and
the surrounding areas, the Newberry event is expected to attract hundreds,
if not thousands of outsiders. Some outsiders may import
COVID-19 into Newberry.
The park and the restrooms will be closed this year for the
thousands of visitors and people are being asked to stay within their vehicles.
But human nature will have people outside their vehicles with many wanting to walk up
to the park's perimeter and mingle in the festive atmosphere for a better view.
Rural Newberry has not yet been seriously impacted by the virus,
but the possible spread of COVID-19 to Newberry's more vulnerable population is
There are strong reasons why the vast majority of the
county's elected officials have canceled their firework displays. The
role of our CSD directors should be to support safety, but like children,
they want 20-minutes of fireworks and they will irresponsibly risk the lives
of others for it.
Personally, I am at an age where catching COVID-19 could be
bad, so I will skip this year's event.
Cases by age in San Bernardino County.
Those over age 20 appear most at risk.
While the door might be currently open enough to allow
the CSD directors the discretion to hold the event, a county-wide
rise in COVID-19 could have the county health officials canceling the event.
Should this happen, CSD General Manager Jodi Howard states
that the fireworks company will allow the CSD to postpone the show for a few
months and to have it rescheduled later in the year. Howard feels
that this is great.
If canceled by the Health Department, why isn't the
CSD General Manager insisting in the contract that all monies be refunded
to the CSD? Why risk forfeiture of any monies or be forced to a later date
this year? Who wants a 4th of July fireworks show in October or December?
That raises another problem with our CSD, there isn't a
single business-minded person among them! Any contract is negotiable.
Why let the fireworks company dictate the terms.
They are suffering this year. They will likely accept any reasonable
terms offered to them for business. The CSD board's ineptness continues
to amaze me.
The CSD appears to be rolling the dice with this event.
The directors will be trying to limit their liability exposure with a bunch of
"veil" disclaimers in their announcements. Such as not being responsible
for COVID-19 exposures.
But such liability veils are easily pierced by attorneys
when enticements are involved. Dah !  Holding a public
fireworks show is a BIG enticement to gather people. Why doesn't the
CSD directors understand the basics?
Anyone hit in darkness by a vehicle on the road near
the event can connect a contributing factor and cause to the show.
Or a family with a COVID-19 death can claim the only source of the virus
was the Newberry fireworks event which every other nearby community
By hosting the event at this time, a jury may consider
the CSD a reckless bad actor and be sympathetic to the plaintiff. The CSD's
insurance probably isn't sufficient.
While such scenarios are not likely, risk management is a
duty of the directors. They shouldn't be exposing the community
to such liabilities during this unusual time.
The Newberry park's location against the mountain is also
not situated properly to host the hundreds of expected vehicles along
Newberry Road and National Trails.
There are just too many problems with this year's "stay
in your car"  event for me to feel good about it. The only
potty for the thousands will be at the VFW. We still don't know enough
about the virus to take life-and-death risks.
Hopefully, those attending will have fun, be safe, and
not catch and spread the virus. I wish the CSD good luck with the
It should be an interesting event.
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