By CHRIS AGEE
Palo Pinto County Commissioners decided to temporarily lift the countywide burn ban at a special session held Thursday morning.
According to County Judge David Nicklas, recent moisture and a drop in the Keetch-Byram Drought Index made this the most appropriate time to allow controlled burns prior to the typically windy month of March.
"It is difficult to allow people to burn at that point and a lot of people need to burn between now and then," he said, noting the ban will be discussed again at the next regular commissioner's court session.
"If you're going to burn, call the sheriff's department," Nicklas said, cautioning residents with a large pile to burn to "let them know they are going to burn something so we don't send [first responders] out unnecessarily."
He also urged everyone to use caution when burning, especially on windy days.
Commissioners also revisited the issue of courthouse security during Thursday's meeting. The discussion began Monday as Sheriff Ira Mercer and District Judge Mike Moore shared their thoughts on increasing security and ultimately left the final decision to commissioners.
"We're going to at least put it on the agenda for next time to probably fund one full-time person to perform courthouse security," he said.
Mercer originally suggested the task required two guards, though he responded to a suggestion of hiring just one at first by saying it is "better than nothing."
Nicklas said Mercer "has put together a more detailed budget and job description" for the position and commissioners will decide how best to move forward at their Feb. 25th regular session.