Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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January 15, 2013

Burn ban lifted . . . for now

By CHRIS AGEE

Following heavy rainfall across the county last week, Palo Pinto County Commissioners voted Monday to lift the burn ban initially ordered in November.

The one-week reprieve extends to Jan. 22 since Monday is a federal holiday.

County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell described current fire conditions as "a double-edged sword."

Although the Keetch-Byram Drought Index rating has been in the low range, between 300 and 400 in recent days, Harwell said, "The fuel is dead and on the ground."

He and several commissioners reported constituents calling to request the burn ban be lifted, though he initially recommended leaving the ban in place as a precaution.

After some discussion, Pct. 2 Commissioner Louis Ragle said he would like to lift the ban for a few days.

Commissioners ultimately voted to lift the ban until midnight Jan. 22, at which time Harwell will look at conditions and recommend either reinstating the ban or continuing without it.

County Judge David Nicklas explained he could intervene at any time to reinstate the ban should conditions change.

Also at Monday's meeting, County Auditor Sharon Allen announced the county received federal money for the 101 Ranch fire, which started in August 2011.

Commissioners certified and budgeted more than $126,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds sent to the county in response to the 101 Ranch Fire that burned 6,555 acres in August 2011.

Allen explained $118,361 will be sent to county fire departments with the remainder going to the sheriff's department.

"This is probably the fastest anyone's ever seen FEMA money," Nicklas said.

In other business, commissioners:

• Approved a request to re-plat Block H, Lots 3 and 4, in Phase 2 of the 7-R Ranch subdivision.

• Approved a request to re-plat Section 1, Block 1, Lots 68 and 69, of the Sportsman's World subdivision.

• Approved a request to re-plat Section 8, Block 2, Lots 4, 5, and 6, of the Sportsman's World subdivision.

• Approved a petition to close alleyways in Palo Pinto.

• Approved elected official's bonds.

• Certified re-appointment of county auditor and assistant auditors.

• Approved reimbursement for medical certification required for CDL drivers employed by the county.

• Appointed Linda Tuggle to county's sick leave pool committee, replacing former Pct. 1 Commissioner Beth Buckalew.

• Approved increase in shipping charges for cameras for county clerk's office.

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