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Burn ban rescinded

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Waxahachie – Ellis County Commissioners voted to rescind the burn ban effective immediately, Monday, March 10, .

“The (Keetch-Byram Drought Index) is at 212 today and that’s before last night’s rain,” said Fire Marshal Investigator Jim Pharr.

“The consensus among fire chiefs is that we rescind the burn ban and keep in mind that if the weather cycle changes we could enact (another burn ban) as soon as possible.”

Commissioner Dennis Robi-nson, pct. 1, made the motion to rescind.

“I think with the KBDI as low as it is – I’ve had a lot of calls from citizens wanting to get it lifted,” he said. The court has historically approved burn bans only when the KBDI reaches 500 and rescinded them when the index drops below that number.

“We are strongly advising people who want to burn to call the Sheriff’s Department and notify them,” said County Judge Chad Adams.

“And if they know the fire department they are in, notify them as well.”

The Sheriff’s Department Dispatch number is 972-937-6060.

“I would like to introduce this idea for us to think about – when it comes to air quality, what has been proven is that the NOx emissions that come from a single fire are huge in comparison with other sources,” Adams said.

“I think there is a potential idea that during the ozone season, May through September, (we could consider) putting on a burn ban to help reduce the ozone issues in and throughout our area.”

Adams noted that reduction of NOx emissions is critical to gaining attainment status under Environmental Protection Agency rules.

“The TCEQ preferred method is to haul it off,” said Pharr. “But because we are still a rural county, they still allow us to do burning on the property. That law could change at any time.”

Commissioner Heath Sims, pct. 3, voted against rescinding the ban, saying he preferred to let it continue to the end of the original 90 day period set by the Court.

A bid by Habitat for Humanity for two pieces of vacant property previously struck from the tax rolls was approved by the Court.

“They are a local organization and they have built houses for those in need,” said attorney Kevin Chester of Linebarger Googan Blair & Sampson. “If they are awarded these properties, they will eventually build houses on them for someone that needs a house and increase the value and improve the tax roll.”

Adams told members of the Court that Habitat for Humanity homebuyers are required to participate in the building of the homes.

“They have to give what’s called sweat equity in the building of the house,” he said.

“Depending on the size of the family and their ability to work, they have to work on their own house and they have to keep up with the payments once they get the loan.”

Commissioners approved proclamations recognizing American Red Cross Month and World Kidney Day, as well as designating March 23 through March 29, 2008 as Farm Safety Week in Ellis County.

“If you remember back in November we talked about the same issue, and we talked about coming back in March during the Ellis County Expo,” said Sims. “Mr. John Paul Dineen is here to talk about plans during Youth Expo Week.”

Dineen and his wife, Heather, have started the Ellis County Chapter of Farm Safety Just for Kids.

“The first thing is Ellis County Expo Family Night on Thursday, March 27,” Dineen said.

“Even though this is farm safety for kids, we are trying to tweak it so it is relevant for everybody.”

Family Safety Night will be held at the Ellis County Youth Expo building on Highway 287 and will include activities for kids to learn about a variety of safety topics, including ATV/4 Wheelers, farm equipment, roads, lawn mowers, animals, chemicals, and firearms, among other things.

Commissioners denied a request for a tax abatement for a group of companies referred to collectively as “Sunset,” a trucking logistics group leasing property north of Waxahachie.

“I am very pro-business, but to give a tax abatement for personal property where the company does not even own property (in the County) – it just doesn’t appear that there is a significant investment in the community,” Adams said.

“If you qualify for real property, you are going to hear me be one of the first to say ‘absolutely.’”

In other business, Commissioners:
* Acknowledged receipt of a report entitled “Closed and Abandoned Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Draft Inventory;”

* Took no action on a contract amendment with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for funding relating to the Low Income Repair and Replacement Program;

* Authorized application for grant funding, already set aside for Ellis County, to be used in Constable Precinct 2 to establish an emissions enforcement program targeting fraudulent inspections and fictitious inspection stickers;

* Approved a necessary Memorandum of Understanding to support establishment of the proposed emissions enforcement program;

* Approved the early voting schedule for the April 8, 2008 Republican and Democratic Primary Run-off election;

* Accepted the Elections Administrator’s certification of petitions within the City of Ennis and ordered Local Option Alcohol Elections to be held on May 10, 2008 within the City of Ennis, with the resolution containing the early voting schedule and election day polling locations;

* Approved the lease of the County’s AutoMark handicap voting equipment to Ellis County Entities including Ennis ISD, Ferris ISD, Italy ISD, Maypearl ISD, Midlothian ISD, Milford ISD, Palmer ISD, Red Oak ISD, Waxahachie ISD, the City of Alma, the City of Bardwell, the City of Ennis, the City of Ferris, the City of Garrett, the City of Italy, the City of Maypearl, the City of Midlothian, the City of Milford, the City of Oak Leaf, the City of Ovilla, the City of Palmer, the City of Pecan Hill, the City of Red Oak, and the City of Waxahachie;

* Authorized the County Judge to sign all legal documents to acquire certain real
properties located in downtown Waxahachie in furtherance of the completion of the Ellis County Criminal and Civil Courts Complex;

* Accepted a donation of two 21-inch culverts for Feaster Road and application of calcium fluoride for dust control on the gravel roads from the Country Thunder USA production group;

* Approved funding to modify the cast iron Spring Creek Bridge to facilitate pedestrian traffic, contingent upon legal agreements being agreed upon by all parties, with funds not to exceed $18,000;

* Authorized sending a “Notice to Cure” letter to Kehe Food Distributors under their tax abatement agreement and authorized the County and District Attorney’s Office to take further legal action as may be required;

* Established that the Court will evaluate the job performance of the Purchasing Agent every two years, effective March 2008;

* Granted two variances, one for road frontage that is approximately seven feet below the requirement and one for the fire hydrant requirement, in precinct 4;

* Approved payment of an accident claim to Becky and Jerry Pierce in the amount of $498.91 from Sheriff’s Office funds;

* Adjourned into executive session to confer with legal counsel prior to making above decisions having to do with possible purchase of real property and contemplated litigation, and to deliberate on the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, or discipline of the Purchasing Agent.

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