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September 13, 2012 8:00 am

High school corks cannon

Written by Dante Geoffrey

The cannon that fired following touchdowns by the Powell High School Panthers has been sidelined for the foreseeable future.

Amidst complaints by neighbors near the new stadium and concern for nearby horses, the school decided to explore alternatives for the time being.

Scores during last Friday’s home-opening victory over Buffalo were celebrated with a little help from the Powell Volunteer Fire Department. A truck on site to monitor and extinguish the burning of the “P” turned on its lights and sirens each time a Panthers player found pay dirt.

Robert and Linda Bessler live north of the football field and were worried the cannon would spook their horses.

“The Besslers have been good neighbors to us, and we want to be good neighbors to them,” said Tim Wormald, Powell High School assistant principal and athletics director.

After discussing the issue with neighbors and the district’s administrators, Wormald decided to put a hold on the longtime Powell tradition.

Park County No. 1 superintendent Kevin Mitchell said he supports Wormald’s decision.

One of the nearby neighbors who was outspoken about the cannon is Ed Wenzel, who can see the stadium from his backyard.

“My intent was not to cause an uproar,” he said. “There’s a myriad of sounds you can do without upsetting neighbors.”

As a safety measure, Wenzel used to put his two miniature schnauzers in his basement and turn on a TV to try to quell the noise, he said.

“Our dogs are real sensitive to gunshots,” he said. “Animals can feel that concussion.”

Bob Hammond, who lives down the street from Wenzel, said the cannon’s blast ruined one of his hunting dogs.

Hammond said he invested more than $1,000 on a new bird dog, who was traumatized initially by fireworks during the homecoming game and then subsequently by the cannon.

“It rattled our windows, we thought it was going to break our windows,” Hammond said of the fireworks.

Hammond said he would take his dog up to the Polecat Bench on evenings when there was a home football game to get his dog away from the noise.

But Hammond said last week’s siren celebration didn’t bother his dog one bit.

“We would really appreciate if they could find something (other than the cannon) that didn’t have that concussion,” Hammond said. “I understand that’s part of the celebration, but I don’t think explosives and fireworks should be part of a residential area.”

Wenzel thinks other, less intense, celebrations can be used that won’t affect the amount of pleasure fans have at the games.

“I know all the neighbors around appreciated the sirens last Friday,” he said. “To me, it was much better and it was better for the fans. I heard more enthusiasm in the stands. It seemed to get them going.”

Wormald said the decision to stop using the cannon is potentially temporary. The Powell City Council already approved the permit required to fire the cannon, so it could be used if the school chose to reverse its current decision.

“It’s not set in stone, but we’ll try it without it,” Wormald said.

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