City approves cannon fire -- with limits

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's OK with Lewisburg Police and City Hall for a cannon to be fired to dedicate a Civil War Trail marker on County Courthouse property, but it must be done safely, officials said Thursday.

"That's David's concern," City Codes Officer Joe "Buck" Beard said after speaking with City Manager David Orr. Beard, Orr and Police Chief Chuck Forbis agree: "Don't load it too tight with too much powder," Beard said.

Earl Wesley "Wes" Pullen, a volunteer with the Civil War Trails program, last week won conditional approval from the County Commission's Building Committee to "dry fire" a Civil War era cannon near the Civil War soldiers monument on the Courthouse law. Permission was conditional. It must be done with agreement of the city.

Wednesday, Pullen reported results of his consultation at City Hall. He'd been referred to Beard.

"He sees no problem with it, so long as we don't do it every week," Pullen said, emphasizing that it's a one-time event.

Beard confirmed it.

"Chief says same thing -- one time thing," Beard said.

And Pullen acknowledged he must keep the police informed.

"I just need to let Police Chief Forbis know before hand so he can guard the square because they'll need some room to turn it around and fire it off," Pullen said.

The cannon would be fired from the pavement of the inner traffic circle around the Courthouse, not from the lawn as reported Wednesday.

"That's fine, too," Beard said of the modified location, although previously he thought the cannon would be fired much closer to Rock Creek.

Pullen's planned trajectory -- assuming there was a cannon ball in the barrel -- would be to shoot the cannon as if the projectile was going to go between the Ladies Rest Room and the Police Headquarters, and then over the Sheriff's Department as if the ball was to land on the east side of Rock Creek.

The proposed location for the cannon, when fired, is less a traffic lane as it is a parking lot.

Still, Beard emphasized, "It's a one time thing...

"But if there's too much powder in it," the codes officer added with various endings to the phrase. "Wouldn't it cause a concussion?"

Would the sound and the blast from the cannon's muzzle be so great as to break windows, or cause some damage, or hurt people?

That was Beard's concern and, as he reported, a concern for the police chief and city manager.

"I don't want them to make too big a noise and knock some windows out," Beard said.

Beard was asked: Who would know that the cannon was loaded properly for the display?

"That's what I want to make sure," the codes officer replied, "that they don't knock a window out, or something."