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Fire dangers subsiding in  Caldwell  County, Forest Service says

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

April – and May – showers brought more than flowers to Caldwell County.

It has been several months since the Keetch-Byram Drought Index circulated by the Texas Forest Service has declared Caldwell County “safe” from wildfire danger. However, on Monday, Caldwell County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Parker anno

unced the KBDI index had fallen below 600, making the county’s risk relatively low. As a result, he was able to comfortably suggest to the Caldwell County Commissioners Court that the burn ban remain lifted for the time being.

During a brief meeting on Monday morning, the Commissioners also decided to join the Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) as a non-voting member. Under CAMPO procedures, new members are labeled as “non-voting” for their first year of involvement, earning a vote after the first year of membership.

County Judge HT Wright assured that despite the non-voting status, Caldwell County’s voice would be heard as the organization moves forward with planning for transportation and growth needs in Central Texas.

The Court also discussed a conflict between two property owners regarding County Road 220. After investigating the situation, Precinct One Commissioner Tom Bonn suggested the county abandon the road, which may have been granted to the county by prescription decades ago.

The dispute stems from questions about property lines and right-of-ways, and has been held up by questions about the City of Lockhart’s recent annexation.

District Attorney Trey Hicks suggested the commissioners hold off on a decision about the road until further discussion can be had with Lockhart’s legal representatives, in an effort to determine what portion of the road, if any, is now located inside Lockhart’s city limits.

The Court heard information from Wright about the possibility of an eminent domain proceeding in connection with properties located on County Road 146. According to Wright, the Texas Department of Transportation plans to rebuild a bridge on CR 146 and has been unable to negotiate the acquisition of necessary property from a landowner.

Wright said the amount of property which might be involved in an eminent domain proceeding is less than one-third of an acre.

Although the Commissioners expressed hope the matter could be resolved without legal action, they admitted such proceedings might be necessary.

In brief news:
Environmental Enforcement Officer Michael Bell tendered his resignation effective May 22. The Court approved his resignation and will take steps to hire a new officer in the near future.

The Court discussed renewing a contract with City-County Benefits Services (CCBS) for consulting fees in connection with the county’s insurance policies. Although CCBS requested an increase in consulting fees, the Court voted to approve the contract at the currently established rate of $20,000, which County Auditor Sonny Rougeou said has not been increased in the last five years.

They considered the possibility of changing the county’s subdivision restrictions to conform with Texas Water Development’s Economically Distressed Areas model rules in an effort to assist the Tri-Community Water Supply with applying for grant funds. Precinct Three Commissioner Neto Madrigal suggested the Court wait for a legal opinion from Hicks before enacting any changes to the subdivision rules.

The county paid bills in the amount of $98,994.63, which includes $5,531.75 for indigent legal defense and $20,785.37 for indigent health care.

The Caldwell County Commissioners’ next regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 26, 2009, at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.

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