By CHRIS AGEE
PALO PINTO – Monday Palo Pinto County Commissioners supported County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell's suggestion to reinstate the countywide burn ban lifted earlier this month during a commissioners court special session. The burn ban is reinstated.
Harwell explained the county has received rain recently, but there have been several uncontrolled fires since the ban was temporarily lifted.
He said county residents began burning almost immediately after hearing the burn ban was off.
"We lifted the ban at 11 and the first burn was 11:02," he quipped.
The largest fire, south of Mineral Wells, was not caused by a careless burn, Harwell said, though at least two other large fires were caused by people burning.
While presenting his report for January, Harwell said February has been an altogether different month."January wasn't too bad," he said.
"We had three fires and most of those were in the beginning of the month."
He said he received five calls around New Year's Day and spent four hours on weather-related duties during a period of light snowfall.
"This month's been pretty packed," he said.
Commissioners heard reports from the heads of various county entities Monday sharing insights into each department's activities.
County Auditor Sharon Allen presented her office's monthly report, indicating the general fund balance was $8,731,641 at the end of January with expenditures accounting for $4,853,264.
"Expenditures are at about 40 percent," she said, "which is where they should be this time of the year."
Additionally, she stated about 93 percent of ad valorem tax revenue is in and sales tax has increased 6 percent over last year.
Treasurer Tanya Fallin explained the county's ending cash balance was $11,409,188.80 as of Jan. 31. She said the majority of that amount, $8,622,887.83, was invested.
Palo Pinto County Chief Deputy Mike Sudderth recounted the agency's activity during January, explaining deputies received 50 civil papers, wrote 19 traffic citations and issued seven warnings.
Officers responded to 527 calls for service, Sudderth added, and made 91 arrests. Deputies logged 46,534 driving miles in the month of January, he said.
Last month, Sudderth said 147 inmates were booked into county jail, noting the jail population as of Monday was 95.
Public Works Director David McDonald informed commissioner's his department issued one permit and collected $360 dollars. Of that total, he said $10 went to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality while the remainder went to the county's general fund.
"January's kind of the slowest month of the year," he said, indicating February has been busier for the department.