Police warn of fireworks use

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2003

Austin Daily Herald

Austin police issued another warning about fireworks.

The upcoming Independence Day holiday already has invited the discharge of fireworks, some of them legal.

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According to Austin police, Minnesota law allows for the sale, possession and use of some fireworks. Those are non-explosive and non-aerial fireworks.

Still illegal are those fireworks which explode or leave the ground to be displayed in the sky.

The law change forbids the discharge of the legal consumer fireworks on public grounds, such as parks, school playgrounds, streets, alleys, roadways and government property.

For more information, contact the Austin-Mower County Law Enforcement Center at 437-9400.

Clean-up planned

Tom Neilon, director of the Mower County Court Services, explained the new joint effort to combat graffiti.

Beginning Tuesday, the MCCS and Austin Police Department will join with the Sentencing To Service Program to send out first-responder teams to clean-up graffiti.

"It's getting excessive," Neilon said.

The Mower County recycling center has obtained a donation of 200 gallons of recycled paint from the Amazon Company and the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce is donating Chamber Bucks for the purchase of rollers and brushes.

Also, the city of Austin and Mower County are providing power-washer equipment.

According to Capt. Curt Rude, the Austin Police Department's officers will take reports of vandalism by graffiti and have the new first response team on site within 72 hours.

Also, juveniles caught tagging property with graffiti will be among those team members cleaning up the results.

Also coming soon, the Austin police will team up with county probation officers for ride-alongs.

According to Neilon, the effort will help POs identify offenders on probation and their status.

The intensive supervision effort called the "Nighthawks Program" will also result in the sharing of more intelligence about illegal activities between the POs and police officers, Neilon said.

Warrant spurs arrest

Paul T. Gartner, 32 of 801 Sixth Ave. SE, was wanted on an out-of-county warrant.

According to an Austin Police Department report, an officer who had previously arrested him pursued Gartner and caught him for more criminal violations.

Gartner was observed leaving the Apollo Superette parking lot at 1:29 a.m. Thursday by an officer on routine patrol.

The officer followed him until Gartner's vehicle pulled over and stopped along Seventh Avenue SW, where another vehicle pulled over and stopped nearby.

The officer observed Gartner exit his vehicle and walk to the rear. When the driver spotted the police officer's car, he hurriedly returned to his car and reached into the driver's side.

When the officer searched the vehicle, he discovered a clear, plastic baggie containing a white chunk on the driver's seat.

The substance tested positive for cocaine.

Gartner was jailed and charged with third degree felony drug charges as well as possession of a small amount of marijuana and a marijuana pipe and driving without proof of insurance.

The cocaine substance was 3.4 grams, according to the report.

The other driver who stopped to meet Gartner was not charged.

The felony drug charge was for possession with intent to distribute, according to police.

As a result of the arrest, Gartner's 1994 maroon Ford Escort was seized.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com