Burn ban begins

February 14, 2018

One of the main items on the agenda when the Terry County Commissioners met in regular session on Monday, February 12 was whether or not to place the county in a Burn Ban.

We had no rainfall in January and finished the year with slightly over one-half inch for the last three months of 2017. In a word, the county is DRY.

With forecasts not showing too much hope of rainfall in the next week or two, Commissioners felt like the only choice was to go into a Burn Ban.

“It’s time,” said Commissioner Mike Swain. “We have waited as long as I feel like we can.”

Sheriff Larry Gilbreath stated, “People have done a good job of calling us when they plan a burn but with it as dry as it is, I agree, it is probably time to go into the ban.”

The Commissioners did vote, unanimously to go into a Burn Ban, with some restrictions. Once the County is placed in a Burn Ban, the ban is in place for 90 days.

The County Fire Marshal, who is the Sheriff, or the Judge does have the power to lift the ban, if conditions change.

The ban states, “It is hereby ordered by the Commissioners Court of Terry County that all outdoor burning is prohibited or restricted in Terry County for 90 days from February 12, 2018 unless restrictions are terminated earlier based on a determination made by the Commissioners Court, County Judge or County Fire Marshal that the circumstances that required the Order no longer exists.”

The Order further states, “…does not prohibit outdoor burning activites related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for (1) firefighter training; (2) public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; (3) planting or harvesting of agricultural crops; or (4) burns that are conducted by prescribed burn manager certified under Natural Resources Code 153.048 and meet the standards of Natural Resources Code 153.047.”

The only exception in the Order approved by the Commissioners was for the preservation of crops such as grape vineyards or pecan orchards.

Violation of the Order is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

Immediately following the approval of this Order, the Commissioners did deny the use of fireworks for Texas Independence Day which is March 2.

Commissioner Shorty Martinez stated, “I know that this is the source of living for some people, but we just can’t allow it right now as dry as it is.”

In other business, the Sheriff presented his yearly Racial Profiling Report as required by the state.

The Terry County Sheriff’s Office Motor Vehicle Racial Profiling Report showed the office made a total of 78 traffic stops during the year.

The Sheriff’s office is not responsible for control ling traffic and only makes traffic stops when necessary and needed and as a part of their patroling of the County roadways.

Of the 78 stops, 76 were citation only with two arrests.

Of the 78 stops, one was African American, two were Asian, 46 were Caucasian and 29 were Hispanic.

Of the 78 stops, race was not known prior to the stops in any stop.

Only two searches were conducted and both with consent.

The Sheriff also informed the Court that a surprise inspection by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards had been made on February 8 and the Terry County Law Enforcement Center was in compliance in all areas.

The Commission was extremely complimentary of the kitchen area. “The Inspector stated that our kitchen was the cleanest one they had seen in their inspections,” stated Gilbreath.

The letter received from the Commission stated, “The Certificate of Compliance demonstrates your outstanding leadership and the diligent work of your staff in complying with minimum jail standards. In addition, this achievement is a direct result of your office’s commitment to excellence and is an example of dedication and professionalism in maintaining a safe, secure and sanitary facility.

Judge Butch Wagner complimented Gilbreath on his good work. “Thanks for all you do over there. We are proud of the good job you and your staff do.”

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