County eases burn restrictions


By LPR Staff

In response to complaints that the outdoor burning ban was unfair to certain business owners, the Caldwell County Commissioners decided to ease the restrictions imposed by the ban on Tuesday.
Under a “State of Emergency Order” approved by the Commissioners Court last week, all outdoor burning, including welding, was proh

ibited. When the order was introduced, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charles Bullock expressed concern that a ban on outdoor welding might prove damaging for welders. During the first week the order was in place, both Bullock and County Judge H.T. Wright received complaints from county residents, claiming that the restrictions were having an adverse affect on business.
“The welders have a right to make a living,” Bullock said during the Court”s regular meeting on Tuesday morning. “I know it”s dangerous, but we can”t tell them that they can”t make a living.”
Wright indicated he had received a complaint from a caterer in northern Caldwell County who claimed his business depended in large part on barbecuing.
Commissioners Joe Roland and Tom Bonn also expressed concern that continuing the stringent restrictions would be hurtful to some business owners. The entire panel weighed the concern heavily against the continued threat of wildfires, since the county has received no significant rainfall and high winds continue to blow.
After seeking counsel from District Attorney Chris Schneider, the Court opted to leave the Emergency Order in place, but to add language allowing outdoor burning for professionals who depend on restricted activities to make their living. Specifically, professional welders may weld outdoors, but only when a “spotter” is present to warn against potential fire hazards. Caterers who depend on outdoor barbecues are also exempt. All other outdoor burning and welding continues to be banned under the Emergency Order.
However, Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Parker pointed out that even those exempted from the ban under the new rules could be held liable if their activities start a wildfire.
In other Court business:
The Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management and Fire Marshal”s office will soon move from their current location on East Market St. to the Scott Annex Building on FM 20 East.
The move comes at the request of Parker, who indicated that the Annex Building provided a more centralized location for an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the event one is needed.
“We can use the meeting room over there, and there are phone lines and plenty of space for an EOC,” he said. Parker assured the Court that the plan would not interfere with other groups, including 4-H groups, who use the meeting room for their regular business.
“The only time we”ll use it is for training and for an EOC,” he said. “We”ll work with the people that schedule meetings in the room, just like everyone else.”
The Court approved a preliminary plat for a proposed subdivision off County Road 241 (Railroad Street) in Maxwell. A public hearing to discuss the subdivision will be held on Monday, Feb. 13 at 9:20 a.m.
In brief Court news:
The Caldwell County Appraisal District has collected about 42 percent of the 2005 tax levy – just under $3.4 million – on behalf of the County.
Wright reported that the County spent about $26,000 on indigent health care last month. He estimates that spending on indigent health will average $25,000 per month for the rest of the fiscal year.
The County paid bills in the amount of $111,302.38, including $8,145 on indigent legal defense.
The Caldwell County Commissioners will meet again at 9 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 23 at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.


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