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Dahlgren can't host July 4th fireworks

November 12, 2012 12:10 am

By CATHY DYSON

There won't be any rockets' red glare exploding over the skies of King George County next Fourth of July.

Lack of funding has killed the public display, held at the Navy base in Dahlgren.

From 1987 to 2008, the county had a partnership with Naval Support Activity South Potomac and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to provide the celebration. The county paid for the fireworks, and the base offered parking, entertainment and security.

The partnership was suspended after 2008 because of the recession. Supervisors said they couldn't spend $20,000 on a 30-minute show when residents were losing their jobs and homes.

County officials eventually found business partners to pay for the display. The show went on in 2011 and this year.

But there's a new problem: Base officials said they can't support the program in 2013 because of the uncertainty in military funding.

Tim Smith, director of the county's Department of Parks and Recreation, told the Board of Supervisors last week that he would explore other venues, if that's what members wanted him to do.

They didn't.

Supervisors agreed they'd been down this road before and came to one conclusion.

"There's only one place with the infrastructure" to hold a public display that attracts thousands of viewers, said Supervisor Dale Sisson Jr.

That place was the base, and if the base can't offer fireworks, neither can the county, supervisors said.

"It is disappointing not to have it in King George, but the times are what they are," said Supervisor Ruby Brabo.

Supervisors agreed to put together a list of regional displays that county residents could attend.

COMPLAINTS ABOUT 206

Residents and supervisors continue to complain about planned improvements at the intersection of State Route 206 and Owens Drive.

VDOT wants to add left- and right-turn lanes, and homeowners and businesses along Route 206 aren't happy about how much property they'll lose. Supervisor Brabo, whose district includes the intersection, also has complained at length in recent meetings that VDOT seems to consider the flow of traffic along the road more important than safety.

Supervisor John LoBuglio, who was sick and didn't attend the meeting, said in a letter that he agrees. He believes a roundabout is the best option and that VDOT would be wasting $4.1 million if it proceeds with plans.

"I am steadfast against giving in to VDOT's present stance," he wrote. "We should press the issue for redesign."

Resident Gloria Robinett said there would be more accidents if additional lanes are added without a traffic light.

Resident Heath Taylor agreed the project was ill-conceived and asked the board to oppose it as a whole. Property owner Dottie Burgess said the whole project has been a nightmare.

VDOT officials have had several meetings with the county and have another work session at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 26 in the board room.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Cedell Brooks Jr. and Sisson said they are waiting to see the redesign VDOT brings back before commenting.

A METER, NOT A MIKE

At the meeting, Chairman Brooks noticed that Sheriff Steve Dempsey was holding what looked like a microphone in his hand. He wondered if the sheriff was getting ready for a karaoke performance.

The sheriff was showing off the county's new decibel meter, a tool needed for the county to enact a noise ordinance.

The meter measures how much noise certain activities generate, such as music from live bands. Localities determine the acceptable levels of noise, and readings above those violate the ordinance.

Dempsey said his office was considering an ordinance with limits in the range of 55 to 60 decibels. There have been two noise complaints since the department got the meters and both were lower than that, Dempsey said.

The sheriff said there probably won't be many noise complaints during the winter, but his department will continue its spot checks in the spring when people have outside events again.

Then, the board could put a policy in place.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
Email: cdyson@freelancestar.com





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