County imposes burn ban, Some fireworks banned
By LPR Staff
Although the calendar indicates that the official start of summer is still days away, a combination of oppressive heat and dry air states clearly that summer is here.
With no real relief from the heat and drought in sight, and on the heels of a dry spring, the Caldwell County Commissioners opted to reinstate an outdoor b
urning ban effective Monday, June 12.
The current burn ban is a bit different than the most recent bans Caldwell County has been under. Although it does limit outdoor burning to inside “enclosures which serve to contain all flames or sparks,” it does not limit the use of welding equipment. In addition, according to Fire Marshal Jeff Wright, the ban does not prohibit burning trash in proper trash barrels.
“We”re just getting started for the summer, and in about a month, I think it”s going to be really bad,” Wright said.
He noted that over the weekend, at least four grass fires erupted in rural Caldwell County, mostly in the southern portion of the county, which has received less rain over the last several weeks than the Lockhart area.
Some weather forecasts indicate the possibility of rain in the Lockhart area next week. However, Wright is still concerned about dry conditions worsening as the summer wears on.
“There gets to be a point where it”s so dry the fire service stops trying to measure the moisture [in an area],” he said. “When I looked at the website, Guadalupe County is already in that area.”
Wright fears Caldwell County might soon earn the same distinction.
In related news, while discussing the burn ban on Monday morning, the Commissioners also discussed an order banning certain fireworks during the summer fireworks season.
Under the order, passed by the Commssioners on Monday, fireworks that will be prohibited this summer include “skyrockets with sticks,” and “missiles with fins.”
This includes many types of aerial fireworks, including “bottle rockets.”
The order does not prohibit the use or sale of small fireworks, classified as Class C explosives (such as “black cats,” sparklers or other small fireworks), or the use of large, Class B fireworks in professional fireworks displays.
Any individual or business found in violation of the fireworks sale and possession order or the outdoor burning ban may be assessed a fine up to $500.
In other Commissioners Court business, the county continues to grapple with the problem of overcrowding at the Caldwell County Jail.
According to County Judge H.T. Wright, the committee appointed last month to review the problem has determined that the most viable solution may be to either add 100 beds or double the size of the current facility. Wright said the 100-bed addition would likely cost upwards of $5 million, while doubling the jail could cost nearly $7 million.
As of Monday, there were 148 inmates in the Caldwell County Jail and another 32 housed in other counties, at a cost of around $55 per inmate per day.
The next overcrowding committee meeting was planned for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 15 in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.
In other Commissioners news:
The Commissioners discussed the presence of mold in the Scott Annex Building.
According to Commissioner Joe Roland, samples of mold have been taken from a wall in the Annex for analysis. The mold apparently grew as a result of leaks in the roof, which the Commissioners recently contracted a local roofer to repair.
Roland said the mold was present in some of the interior walls of the building, and likely on the roof as well. A part of the roofing contract, however, was to power-wash the roof, which Roland believes should solve the exterior mold problem.
The Commissioners plan to discuss the mold with building maintenance supervisor Curtis Weber before making any long-term plans, as Weber plans to use county maintenance staff to remediate the mold.
In brief Court news:
The panel agreed to grant variances to three landowners asking to divide small portions of their property for sale or gift to other owners.
The Commissioners heard reports from the Caldwell County Veterans Service Officer and the Caldwell County Extension Agents.
They agreed to move forward with the expenditure of Homeland Security funds to purchase radio and transmitter equipment.
The County paid bills in the amount of $471,434.68, which includes $19,958.78 for indigent legal defense, $14.248.13 for inmate health care in the Caldwell County Jail and $64,426.59 to the Caldwell County Appraisal District for the County”s portion of the appraisal district”s budget. The total also includes a “pass through” of grant funds in the amount of “$268,925 for HAVA election equipment.
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. Commissioners Court meetings are open to the public.