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Burn ban continues

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WAXAHACHIE – A 90-day burn ban approved by the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court on

Jan. 26 continues in effect, with no action taken after a discussion in Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

According to Fire Marshal Investigator Jim Pharr, conditions on Monday were essentially the same as they were when the order was approved, with the 14-day outlook offering little change as well.

"The Keetch Byrum Index was 443 this morning, which is actually up a little bit from (January) when we adopted the ban," Pharr said.

"Conditions are still dry. The wind is still up."

According to the Texas Forest Service Web site, 196 Texas counties currently have bans on outdoor burning.

Burning not emitting sparks, such as trash burned in a barrel with a tightly-woven screen on top or a charcoal grill, is permissible under the order.

Pharr noted the majority of grass fires are the result of discarded cigarettes.

Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Brearley presented the department’s annual racial profiling report as required by statute.

According to the report, the department made 3,000 stops in 2008, some 237 fewer than in 2007.

Of those 3,000 stops, 38 ended in arrest, with 63 percent of those arrested listed as Caucasian, 21 percent listed as Hispanic, and 16 percent listed as African American.

Commissioners approved a notice from the Texas Department of Transportation announcing three county roads will be closed approximately from July 2009 through April 2010 for the purpose of constructing new bridges.

Bridges on Pluto Road, Morgan Road and Pecan Tree Road, within the limits of Mill Creek, Hog Creek Tributary and Onion Creek will be rebuilt by TxDOT under a cost-sharing grant program approved by the commissioners’ court several years ago.

The court also granted permission to apply for grant funding through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

If approved, the Local Initiative Project funding would assist the county with purchase of a replacement vehicle with lower emissions to be used in Constable Precinct 4.

Additionally, the Court approved a proposal to allow any remaining monies designated by TCEQ for use in Ellis County under the project to be requested by the North Central Texas Council of Governments for the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program.

The commissioners viewed a slide presentation prepared by the Texas Association of Counties Health and Employee Benefits Pool (TAC HEBP) highlighting the "Healthy County" program, a new wellness program designed to "optimize the health and well-being of (pool) members."

According to Human Services Director Diana Buckley, the presentation has been shown to a number of employees already and will be shown to others in meetings later this week and early next week.

The program offers financial incentives to employees to encourage them to take charge of their health and make positive lifestyle changes, using tools available on the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas website.

The program will augment the county’s ongoing employee health and safety initiative.

Diana Buckley

Ellis County Human Services


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