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Commissioners reinstate burn ban, fireworks ban

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

After more than a month of relaxed conditions, Caldwell County firefighters returned to full alert on Monday in preparation for the annual summer fireworks season.

During a brief meeting on Monday morning, the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court opted to reinstate an outdoor burning ban and enter an order to ban cer

tain aerial fireworks.

The decision came upon a recommendation from Caldwell County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Parker, who noted dangerous wildfire conditions growing throughout the county.

“We’re back up above 500 [on the Keetch-Byram Index] in most of the county,” Parker said. “That’s really the time we need to go ahead and put the ban back on.”

In addition, Parker said, the Commissioners would not be able to impose a ban on aerial fireworks without an outdoor burning ban in place.

“Luling isn’t as bad off as the rest of the county is,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Charles Bullock, who spent much of the spring encouraging the other commissioners to lift the burn ban to allow agricultural burning. “But I think most of [the agribusinesses] have had the chance to burn what they need to burn, and we need to go ahead and put it back on.”

Although Precinct 3 Commissioner Neto Madrigal was absent from the meeting, the remaining commissioners and Caldwell County Judge HT Wright unanimously agreed to reinstate the ban.

With the outdoor burning ban in place, the Court briefly discussed placing a ban on aerial fireworks for the Fourth of July fireworks season.

The ban, which the Commissioners have imposed for several years, makes it a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500, to sell, detonate or ignite fireworks described as “skyrockets with sticks” or “missiles with fins,” including bottle rockets and other such fireworks.

Although an attorney for the Texas Association of Counties suggested counties could choose to designate a “safe area” for the detonation of fireworks, the Caldwell County Commissioners made no such designation.

In other business, the Commissioners considered abandoning Shawnee Trail (CR 87) in rural Caldwell County.

According to Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Roland, the road is not used by the residents in the area, nor is it routinely maintained by the Caldwell County Unit Road System.

Landowners with property adjoining CR 87 approached Roland asking his help in seeking a solution to the problem of trash dumping, which they said is the only reason people use the short, dead-end road.

The Commissioners agreed to begin the process of abandoning the road. In the meantime, a gate will be installed to prevent further dumping, and the trash currently located on the road will be removed. After the road is abandoned, the gate installed by the county will be removed and the adjoining property owners will be responsible for maintenance of the land.

In brief news:
Wright reported on spending for indigent health care and indigent burials in Caldwell County. According to his figures, spending in both areas is on target, and is expected to come in at or under budget for this fiscal year.

The Commissioners heard reports from several county departments.

The County paid bills in the amount of $197,944.98. Among those expenses was a payment for 416,496 for food at the Caldwell County Jail, which drew concern from Precinct 1 Commissioner Tom Bonn. Wright explained the cost per inmate per meal at the Caldwell County Jail hovers between $1 – $1.25.

The Caldwell County Commissioners meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse. The meetings are open to the public, and county residents are encouraged to attend.

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