Despite wet summer, County urges caution when burning


By LPR Staff

Although they opted not to reinstate an outdoor burning ban at this time, Caldwell County officials urged residents to use caution when burning brush or trash outdoors.
“All the grass that grew all summer long is starting to dry out now,” said Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Parker during the regular meeting

of the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court on Monday. “The drier it gets, all that high grass is going to make for a lot of fuel on the ground, and that’s when things will get dangerous.”
Parker said though there have not been serious grassfires in the county so far this year, fires often increase in the fall.
According to the Keech-Byram Index, which is used by the U.S. Forest Service to determine wildfire danger, Caldwell County is hovering on the edge of being an area in danger.
“Things are changing with the weather and the winds, and we’re really right in the middle of the Keech-Byram right now,” Parker said. “We can probably go without a burn ban for another few weeks, but we’re starting to get into the position where people need to be careful.”
Parker reminded the Court and the county residents in attendance at the meeting that fires should never be left unattended, and are best not started on windy days.
Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel Law also said it is illegal to light or burn an outdoor controlled fire after dark, and that any burning in the county should be done in daylight hours.
He invited county residents with questions or concerns about outdoor burning to contact his office at (512) 398-6747.
In other business, the Court held a public hearing to discuss the passage of the county budget and tax rate for the coming fiscal year.
The most notable change mentioned during the hearing was the addition of a full-time janitor for the Courthouse and surrounding areas. Currently, a part-time staffer has been overseeing maintenance at the Courthouse during the morning hours only.
Commissioners Neto Madrigal and Joe Roland informed the Court they have been researching the County’s rights and responsibilities on gun control in rural areas.
Discussion on gun control was sparked earlier this year when a child in Hays County was accidentally shot and killed by a neighbor practicing with his weapons on his own property.
However, according to Roland and Madrigal, the County cannot make rules regarding specific types of weapons (handguns, rifles or shotguns). According to District Attorney Reagan “Trey” Hicks, they said, the state statute does not make those distinctions, and therefore, neither can a county ordinance.
The Commissioners have requested an opinion from the Attorney General of the State of Texas regarding the issue, and will revisit the discussion after that opinion has been issued.
Attorney General’s opinions can take up to two years to be issued.
In brief news:
The Commissioners discussed nominating a board member to the Caldwell County Appraisal District Board of Directors. Nominations to the board are due next month, and the Court will revisit the issue during their next regular meeting.
They granted contracts for the purchase of asphalt, flexible base, gravel and fuel to several area distributors.
The Court discussed changes to the county’s policy manual, which County Judge H.T. Wright hopes will clear some of the confusion caused by this year’s pay raise proposals.
The County paid bills in the amount of $51,035.89, which included $2,700 for indigent legal defense.


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