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Bolivar council considers bonfires after dusk

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Bolivar Mayor Tim Pickup simply wants to enjoy a beer in his back yard next to a contained bonfire.

He is calling for a change in the borough's air pollution control ordinance that prohibits fires — other than those used for cooking — after dark.

“I know a lot of people who enjoy having a little fire in their back yard,” Pickup said. “And we can't do that without having a stinking hot dog outside.”

Pickup called for the change as a councilman at the Feb. 7 meeting. At the end of that meeting, council appointed him as mayor until the end of the year.

The current ordinance, approved in 1994, allows for the burning of brush, leaves and paper in a container during daylight hours on Saturday. Otherwise, open fires are allowed for cooking only, the ordinance states.

Residents who violate the ordinance are subject to fines ranging $40 to $100 under the ordinance, which can be enforced by borough police or Bolivar residents, according to the ordinance.

Councilwoman Sue Bartow said she received a fine for the violation some years ago.

“We had hot dogs outside, but (the officer) claimed there were 30-foot flames, which there were not,” she said.

She fought the citation before a magistrate and then in Common Pleas Court, but ultimately had to pay, she said.

Council members discussed allowing attended, recreational fires between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. on any day of the week.

Solicitor Jeff Miller said he would draft some amendments for council to discuss at the March 7 council meeting.

“If I have a Wednesday off, and I want to go out and sit by the fire and drink a beer, I want to be able to do it,” Pickup said.

Pickup said the issue came up when he was visiting a friend's house in Pittsburgh, and they enjoyed a backyard bonfire.

“I told them we weren't allowed, and they said, ‘You live 30 miles out in the country. How are you not allowed to have a fire?'” he said. Any amendment would have to be advertised before council can vote on the matter.

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or