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Fireworks Booths Prep For Seasonal Run
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A familiar sight - once a year, at least - the fireworks booths will soon be touching down at four locations in the city.

Escalon is one of the cities in San Joaquin County that allows the sale of 'Safe and Sane' fireworks in advance of the July 4 holiday and booths will be set up and open for business later this month. While the official first day of sales will be Thursday, June 28, the booths will be delivered within the next week or so, bundled and ready for set up.

An earlier lottery drawing from among all applicants determined the lucky three organizations that will run the fundraising booths. One has traditionally been set aside for the city's Recreation Department as well.

Winners this year were Trinity Church, with its booth location at MarVal Main Street Market on McHenry Avenue, Saron Lutheran Church at The Barn on Highway 120 headed west out of town and Escalon Ag Boosters, which will set up at Big Boy Market on Jackson Avenue.

The city booth is set up in the parking lot at Escalon Center, between Hula's and D'Boni's.

And while the city will continue to serve as the conduit for the lottery system and awarding the booths, this will be the last year that they will actually operate a booth.

"This year the Parks Foundation that was formed in the city, they're going to assist us in manning the rec department booth," explained City Manager Henry Hesling. "We're going to show them how the process goes and we're going to split the proceeds this year. Next year they will take our position."

There will be four booth slots next year but with the Parks Foundation taking over the city slot, three again will be up for the lottery.

"We'll still do the lottery but they will be the ones that run the booth," Hesling said.

It came down to numbers, he noted, with the cost for extra staff time to run the fireworks booth cutting in to the profit margin to the point of it not really being worth it.

"There is cost to that, we're just putting it in one pocket and taking it from another," Hesling explained. "It's a seven day shot and it takes a lot of staff time to do that.

"Over the years, the profit has also dropped because cities like Lodi and others have also allowed fireworks, there are more allowed in the county now and it starts to dilute the profit."

The Parks Foundation, with its number one priority being development of a skate park for the city, will use proceeds from this year to work toward that goal and will continue to seek other fundraising avenues.

Sales at all the fireworks booths can start at noon on June 28.

"Once we open for selling, they (fireworks) can be sold and lit off through midnight on the fourth," said Recreation Director Bridget Gaines.

Booths will be open for varying hours, but can sell until Wednesday, July 4. Only the fireworks that are approved by the Fire Marshal are offered at the booths.

The rec department itself will also undergo a change later this year, with the director position eliminated as of the end of September.

"We're going to look at a rec coordinator and we haven't decided yet how that is going to be brought on," Hesling said of cutting the fulltime director post. "We're not sure if it will be brought on as contract person or a staff person."

The job will not be fulltime, but a part-time coordinator only, with the council still considering how best to fill the post.

Gaines could apply or seek an additional post within the city structure based on seniority.

"We have a plan of what we want to do (with recreation), but it's really based upon what kind of revenue we get," Hesling said. "We have the position in through Sept. 30 so we can get all the summer activities over with and work on a transition."