Commissioners leave burn ban in place, despite rain


By LPR Staff

Although some portions of Caldwell County were washed in rain over the weekend, the Caldwell County Commissioners opted to leave an outdoor burning ban in place during their regular meeting on Monday.
Weekend rain quenched Central and Southeastern Caldwell County on Saturday and Sunday, according to County Fire Marshal J

eff Wright. However, given the extent and duration of the recent drought, along with the increased fire hazard after a wet spring and summer, Wright suggested the outdoor burning ban be left in place for at least another week. The Commissioners voted unanimously to support Wright”s recommendation.
In related news, Wright also presented a second draft of a proposal to introduce a permitting procedure for outdoor burning. The procedure has been discussed by Wright and the Commissioners for some time, and seems to be nearing completion.
“I started working on this because I hear from so many people that burn brush for a living that are telling me that this ban is killing their livelihood,” Wright said. “If we had some way of permitting in place, they could still work…”
Some Commissioners resist the idea of burning permits, though.
“What we don”t want is someone seeing someone with a permit burning up the road, and then thinking that it”s okay for them to burn,” Commissioner Neto Madrigal said. “I understand that the brush movers say we”re hurting their livelihood, but if we start allowing some burning, we run the risk of hurting other people”s lives.”
County Judge H.T. Wright suggested the permit policy should include requirements for liability insurance.
“There needs to be some accountability involved if we”re going to issue permits to burn,” he said.
The panel decided to table the resolution and asked Wright to make additional adjustments. He will return the policy for review at a later date.
In other news, the Commissioners discussed an accident prevention and safety policy suggested by County Treasurer Lori Rangel-Pompa.
Rangel-Pompa has been working for several months with a committee of county employees and the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) to draft an accident prevention plan to be added to the County”s policy manual. She said the draft was complete and ready to be approved by the Court on Monday.
The accident prevention plan, which includes several levels of documentation and many types of safety inspections, is thought by at least one Commissioner to be a bit over-broad.
“I think that it might be a little too involved in some areas,” Commissioner Charles Bullock said. He expressed concern, specifically for the Unit Road System, regarding some of the procedures.
Unit Road Administrator Dwight Jeffrey agreed that the policy seemed overbearing in some ways, but indicated the changes would be alright after his staff became accustomed to them.
Rangel-Pompa acknowledged that the policy had been suggested in large part by TAC representatives, but that it could be changed at any time if the County sees portions are ineffective.
The panel voted 3-1 to institute the policy, with Bullock voting against.
In brief news:
The Commissioners approved a quitclaim deed on a portion of Old Lockhart-Austin Road, which is located on the property of Lucille Barth. Barth requested the county vacate rights to the property because it will be impacted by the construction of State Highway 130.
They opted not to grant a variance to a property owner wishing to sell one acre of his 16-acre tract on FM 672. While the Commissioners may consider the variance at another time, they tabled the proposal on Monday because they lacked proper documentation to make an informed choice on the matter.
They rejected three bids for the purchase of a single-drum roller for the Unit Road System.
The county paid bills in the amount of $232,433.86, which included $12,979 for indigent legal defense and $12,942 for indigent health care.
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.


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