Naples switches its pyrotechnics company


By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The phrase, “more bang for the buck” can be taken literally when referring to buying fireworks.

For individuals, getting more bang for the buck might be a conversation that takes place at a fireworks stand or it might be a decision made while ordering Online.

For a municipality that provides a fireworks show that draws tens of thousands of people, it happens on a much larger scale.

In the case of Naples — which for decades has been the Lake Region destination for a public pyrotechnical show on Independence Day — it boils down to a bid.

Naples Town Manager John Hawley recently solicited bids from the companies that provide pyrotechnical shows in New England.

In April, the town sent out referrals for proposals (RFPs) and received two bids by the deadline, Hawley said. The bidders were Atlas PyroVision Entertainment, Inc., of Jaffrey, N.H., and Central Maine Pyrotechnics, based in Hallowell.

Each company bid $9,000; however, Central Maine Pyrotechnics promised more shells in its show.

“You can see by the results, we are going to get twice the amount of show from Central Maine Pyrotechnics,” Hawley said.

The Naples Board of Selectmen tabled the item on April 23. That decision was made after a resident expressed his reservations about making the switch.

On April 30, after Hawley updated the board on his findings, the selectmen awarded the bid to Central Maine Pyrotechnics.

Hawley said a recent policy to put out to bid any job that is more than $5,000 prompted the RFPs to be sent out. Prior to the policy change, bids were not required unless the estimated cost was $10,000 or more, he said.

Atlas is the company that the town had been using for the past 10 years. Hawley said that Town Clerk Judy Whynot had provided him with the town’s history with Atlas.

During the April 23 meeting, Naples resident Skip Meeker stepped up to the microphone and expressed concerns about switching to another company.

“Having worked with the town on getting Atlas, maybe you should investigate this further. Atlas is very reputable and one of the better companies,” Meeker said.

If the town quit doing business with Atlas, it is doubtful Naples could get Atlas back, especially on such a busy holiday as the Fourth of July, he said. Also, Meeker questioned the quality of the other pyrotechnics business bidding against Atlas.

Hawley said, “I was bound by a bid process, not quality.”

Chairman Jim Grattelo asked, “Is anyone else familiar with Atlas or Central Maine?”

Then, Grattelo asked the town manager if the town could get references from the two companies.

“They supplied references,” Hawley said.

Grattelo spoke, explaining that the price was the same from both companies

“I am sensing some uneasiness,” Grattelo said, before making the motion to table the item.

On Monday, fireworks were on the agenda again.

Prior to the unanimous vote to award a one-year contract to Central Maine Pyrotechnics, Hawley tried to address the concerns voiced by Meeker the previous week. He had talked to one of the organizers for Casco Days.

“They have used Central Maine for 39 years. They are very pleased with the company and said all their requests are met,” Hawley said.

“Are they offering us the good price just to get their foot in the door? They are interested in doing a three-year contract. And, that price would be locked in,” he said.

Selectman Bob Caron II said it was best if the town tested them out this Independence Day, and then decided about future holidays.

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