When Brown County Commissioners lifted a month-long burn ban on July 14, they said it might be short-lived, given the typical hot and dry Texas summer.
Their forecast was on target.
Commissioners put the ban back into effect on Monday, making controlled brush burns and trash burning illegal in the county. However, Commissioner Steve Adams pointed out that this ban reflects the least restrictions, so welding outside is not prohibited. County officials urged residents to use extreme caution whenever engaged in outdoor activities that can create sparks.
“We had a grass fire last week that was started from welding,” said Adams, who is a member of the Winchell Volunteer Fire Department.
Consideration of the ban was sought by Commissioner Larry Traweek, who said, “We’ve had several fires this past week and it’s gotten drier.”
Commissioner Joel Kelton said he had received several calls from residents in favor of reinstating the burn ban.
Commissioners also approved the hiring of Janeen Tucker by the county clerk’s office. Tucker is moving from the district clerk’s office. The court approved the hiring of Angie Clawson to fill the vacancy on the district clerk’s staff.
County leaders conducted an unusually short business meeting on the fourth Monday of the month, a day on which they usually don’t convene. However, after a recess, they began a series of budget workshops that will continue today.
But before opening that part of the meeting, the court heard a report from Adams regarding a $50,000 grant from the West Central Texas Council of Governments to fund an environmental officer for the sheriff’s department. Adams said he and Sheriff Bobby Grubbs learned of the approval during a recent meeting with WCTCOG officials.
Adams said the grant request has been approved, and it will fund salary and expenses on a graduated scale for the next three years. The grant will cover 100 percent of training plus a salary of $28,000 during its first year, 75 percent during the second year and 50 percent during the third year.
“They expect us to keep it going after that,” Adams said. “The sheriff knows we’re not going to hire someone until all the paperwork is filed.”
The grant is funded through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s solid waste grants program, and commissioners approved the application during a special June 26 meeting.
“We get lots of calls, because people dump old tires and other trash in ditches and along the road,” Grubbs said in June. “We take care of it, and we respond to those calls, but it would help us a lot if we had an officer in charge of these environmental concerns.”
Grubbs also said the environmental officer could investigate abandoned properties.
“Those old empty houses, people go in those and manufacture drugs, this officer could get some of that stopped, and that would help everybody,” Grubbs said.
Sheriff’s Capt. Ellis Johnson, who researched the grant and completed most of the paperwork, delivered the application that day. The deadline for applications was July 7.
Funding is expected to be available by October.
Brown County had been awarded a grant for an environmental officer previously, but a subsequent application was denied.