Letters to the editor

Staff Writer
The Kansan

Taking issue with fireworks

Dear Manager McElroy, Chief Dunlavy, and commissioners,

I would like to again express my concerns about the July 4 “celebrations” in Newton. This year seemed to have more participants, more fireworks, and longer hours than ever before. I would not complain about losing a couple hours of sleep with fireworks going off until 10 p.m. on July 1, 2, 3, and 5 and until midnight on July 4, as authorized in the city ordinance. However, that is never what happens. Every year the explosions continue until 11 p.m. or later on July 1, 2, 3, and 5 and until 1 or even 2 a.m. on July 5.

Last night a dozen or more locations in Newton were still shooting off very noisy fireworks between 1 and 2 a.m. It seems clear to me that this was a concerted and coordinated effort to disturb the peace rather than to enjoy the holiday. Why? First, almost all of the fireworks exploding during this period were the type designed to make noise rather than visual displays as seen earlier between 10 and midnight. Second, the folks nearby who kept me awake from 1 to 1:45 set off blasts of one or two explosions every three to five minutes. The fun would seem to be in the disturbance (and perhaps this is a means to avoid detection) This was only a few hundred yards from my house near Cypress and Anderson, and the noise made it impossible to sleep. The type of fireworks and sporadic nature of the disturbance makes the intent clear. And most of the other explosions during this very late period throughout the city were similar. Whatever the intent, the result was to keep me and I am sure hundreds of other Newtonians awake much of the night.

I grew up in Newton in the ’50s and ’60s when fireworks (except sparklers and snakes) and firework stands were illegal in the city limits. I remember extremely few violations other than a few firecrackers in the afternoons around the fourth, but definitely no noisy displays at night. There were plenty of stands outside town and places to enjoy the fourth without disturbing the peace of the city. Perhaps Newton could just return to these provisions and be great again. Or at a minimum you could implement some of my other suggestions above.

— David A. Haury, Newton

Kansas Black History Museum in jail

The Kansas African-American History Museum (TKAMM) is a beautifully curated museum with a dedicated staff and board. Ironically its physically surrounded by the Sedgwick County Jail. The museum, a historic landmark, the former Calgary Baptist Church in what was the original black neighborhood of Wichita. Today sadly, this historic black neighborhood is still populated by mainly African-American men who live in the jail. The church was declared a historic landmark by the City of Wichita decades ago, I served on the committee.

The irony of a historic black church surrounded by a jail and now TKAMM in a neighborhood populated by African American men in jail, is stunning mentally and visually. People of the State of Kansas, Sedgwick County and the City of Wichita and especially the African American community deserve better. White leadership who have perpetuated this extreme example of institutional racism over time must lead the way to build a new museum.

Today Black Lives Matter and Black History Matters and local and state leaders among the majority population of Kansas need to honor the legacies of African American Kansans. We must build a proper museum from which we can all learn and grow. If Black Lives Matter.

— David Wilkinson, Wichita