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Citizens protest ‘body farm’

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Texas State University announced last week that it plans to move forward with construction of a forensics laboratory off Highway 21 in Caldwell County.
The “body farm” is intended to allow students in anthropology and criminal justice to study human decomposition in a variety of different circumstances, both indoors and

outdoors.
Until last week, Texas State was quietly executing the plans, with university Provost Perry Moore telling the Austin-American Statesman over the weekend that the facility is a “done deal.” The body farm was to be added to the university”s Horticulture Center, which although inside the city limits of San Marcos is located in Caldwell County.
Plans for the body farm call for eight- to 10-foot high chain link fence, topped by razor wire, with the facility not in plain view of any homes. However, neighbors still do not want the facility in their backyards.
Several neighboring landowners decried the plan during a public meeting held at the university last week, and their voices were joined on Monday morning by those of the Caldwell County Commissioners.
“I didn”t know a thing about this until I saw it on the news,” Commissioner Tom Bonn said. “[The university] moved forward with this without saying a word to this Court.”
County Judge H.T. Wright, who was not present at Monday”s meeting, was said to have reacted badly to the discovery, as well.
“I spoke to [him] this morning, and he is outraged,” Commissioner Neto Madrigal said. “He said we need to get with the District Attorney and pursue this, and try to get an injunction to stop them.”
Because it is a State entity, Texas State is not required to follow zoning or land-use plans instituted by cities or counties. Still, residents hope something can be done to stop them from moving forward.
“When it rains, there is a lot of moving water,” said neighbor David Hennings on Monday morning. “If they plan to have water on the property, that could get in with our water and contaminate the system. It will also draw coyotes, bugs and buzzards. If a small plane out of the San Marcos hits a buzzard, that plane might wind up in my living room.”
Because the “body farm” was not listed on the published agenda, the Commissioners could not take any formal action on Monday. However, they did pledge to investigation the situation further to help neighbors find relief.
In other business, the Court decided to leave an outdoor burning ban off for another week.
Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Parker cautioned the Court, however, because there have been some large grass fires in the county in recent weeks.
“Everything is “greening up” really well,” he said. “But there is still a lot of dry fuel on top of that green, and that dry fuel is what”s burning. People really just need to be aware when they”re burning to make sure there isn”t a bunch of dry grass on top of that nice, wet green grass.”
Parker said two brush-fire trucks had gotten stuck in the mud over the last week while fighting wildfires sparked from dry grass.
Because the weather forecast calls for warm weather for the next several days, with a chance of rain next week, the Commissioners voted to leave the ban off, but could reinstate it at any time, if they determine an immediate need.
In brief news:
They discussed pending legislation that might change the boundaries of the Plum Creek Conservation District. According to Plum Creek board member Lucy Fielder, the conservation district does not support the legislation, drafted by Rep. Patrick Rose.
The County paid bills in the amount of $50,289.39.
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court meets the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.

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