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Coopers Lake fireworks festival traffic flowed thanks to agreement

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A last-minute agreement with officials in Worth helped put more state troopers on traffic control duty at the 2013 Boom & a Blast Pyrotechnics Guild International Convention and kept traffic flowing better than some officials had feared.

“We had more manpower than we initially believed and anticipated, and we were able to dedicate that to traffic flow on Interstate 79 and Route 422,” said state police Lt. Eric Hermick, commander of the Butler barracks.

Lengthy traffic delays occurred on the last day of the festival. Traffic was backed up for several miles on Interstate 79 and Route 422 as people arrived to watch the display.

“I think it was pretty much what we expected,” said Jack Cohen, Butler County's tourism director said. “Friday (the finale) was the biggest night, we may have had 35,000 to 40,000 cars. But we did pretty well, There were no real incidents. Everything went off without a hitch.”

Cohen added that traffic flowed well throughout the week because fewer people attended the public weeknight displays. There were 5,000 to 7,000 vehicles.

State police and the Butler County sheriff's department handled traffic flow near Cooper's Lake Campground for the Aug. 11-16 festival.

Hermick said the cost of the overtime was being tallied.

Worth secretary-treasurer Shari Kreutz said the township hadn't received a bill yet. She said officials had hoped to keep the overtime pay to less than $5,000.

Cohen said the amusement tax meant the county will receive 5 percent of the revenue generated from the admission fees of $35 and $40 a car. Cohen said event organizers, Pyrotechnics Guild International, didn't have final attendance numbers as of Wednesday.

“We've already seen $3.75 million in economic impact,” Cohen said, before adding up the amusement tax. “We'll see over $4 million for sure.”

That economic impact included hotel reservations, convention attendees and visitors to the public displays spending money on food and other items.

Cohen said the success of the convention should help with Butler County's pitch to have the group return in 2017.

“Everybody loved the site,” Cohen said.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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