Kleveland celebrates 50 years of selling fireworks
Jim Kleveland (r) started selling fireworks in high school and 50 years later continues to oversee his annual booming business. While family members continue to run the stands in Chester (there are two), the 65-year old Kleveland mostly provides guidance and business sense. In 2010, the business owner passed the spark to his nieces Audra Junek and Coleen Cherney. Cherney is pictured above standing to the left of Kleveland. Also pictured are Kleveland’s grandson Skylar Shaner (l) and great-nephew Dakota Cherney (dressed as Uncle Sam). Kleveland, a Chester native, started selling fireworks when he was a teenager to help pay his tuition at Peru State Teachers College where he earned his B.A., B.S., and B.F.A. degrees. Kleveland says his love for fireworks has never waned and although government fees and regulations for fireworks have grown since his first stand 50 years ago, demand has never fallen off. “Fireworks are as patriotic as the Statue of Liberty, the American flag and the eagle,” he says. Kleveland’s stands are situated along U.S. 81 on both sides of the Nebraska/Kansas border at Chester.