Johnson County commissioners declined to reinstate a burn ban on Tuesday but vowed to continue monitoring conditions adding that should the need arise they will reinstate the ban.
Commissioner Larry Woolley explained that at the time he placed the request on the court’s agenda weather conditions indicated that it might be wise to reinstate the ban.
“Items have to be in by noon Tuesday to get on the next court agenda,” Woolley said. “At that time we had not had rain yet.”
The decision to institute a burn ban is largely determined by the Keetch-Byram Drought Index. That index takes the net effect of evapotranspiration and precipitation in producing cumulative moisture deficiency in deep duff and upper soil layers into account in assessing the risk of fire, according to drought.gov.
“The index ranges from zero to 800. Burn bans are usually called for once the index reaches 600 or above.
“Last Tuesday it was well north of 600,” Woolley said. “We’ve had rain since and more is forecast to be on the way so I would suggest we continue without a burn ban for now. But we need to keep an eye on it because we also might get a frost. That causes grass to go into a dormant state, which creates more volatile fuel sources.”
Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon rescinded the previous burn ban on Oct. 18.
Commissioners gave up the county’s interest in a piece of land for the benefit of Cleburne.
The county and city obtained the land — at 802 N. Granbury St. in Cleburne — through a tax foreclosure. Such properties are normally auctioned with any proceeds realized split between the taxing entities involved.
Purdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins & Mott Attorney Bruce Medley, however, informed commissioners that despite three attempts to auction the property no bids have been received.
“The property had an old gas station that’s still there,” Medley said. “Studies showed that while there is no surface contamination there is asbestos.”
The cost of abating the old building would almost certainly outweigh any profit the county or city would realize on the sale of the property, Commissioner Rick Bailey said, adding that it’s a moot point given that no one has expressed interest in purchasing the land.
“So what the city of Cleburne is asking is for the county to convey their interest in the property to the city,” Medley said. “Conditional on that, the city will abate the gas station at their cost and tear it down. They want to make the property a city green space.”
Commissioners unanimously approved Cleburne’s request.
“It’s ironic,” Commissioner Jerry Stringer said. “You have to do all these high dollar studies to build on a piece of land. But you can build a park there to let the kids play in.”
Foreclosed properties in Cleburne have otherwise flown off the shelf in recent years and been snapped up by developers planning to build new homes, Medley said.
Harmon, joined by the other commissioners, proclaimed Nov. 11 as Veterans Recognition and Appreciation Day in Johnson County and encouraged residents to fly the U.S. flag that day and thank any veterans they see. That day is also Veterans Day, a day that, as always, will be celebrated at Cleburne American Legion Post 50. The ceremony and celebrations begin at 11 a.m. and all are welcome.
This year will be extra special, Past American Legion Auxiliary State President Marty Peters said because this year marked the 100th anniversary of the Cleburne’s post and because the street running in front of the post now has a new name.
Cleburne Council members last week agreed to change the portion of South Hillsboro Street fronting the post’s property to American Legion Lane. Although the new street sign is already in place its official unveiling ceremony will be held during the Nov. 11 celebration.
Peters also praised Johnson County Veterans Officer Katherine Fasci for her dedication to veterans. Fasci in turn credited commissioners and other county officials.
“As a lot of you know it’s a challenge to work with the VA and the government on veterans issues,” Fasci said. “Which is why it means so much to me that our county officials support veterans and veterans issues. Not all counties do. And your support makes our job easier as we continue to fight for our veterans. And it is my honor to be able to help them.”
Fasci called upon residents to support veterans as well and to pray for them and their families.
“For many of our veterans long after the wars end their suffering goes on,” Fasci said.
Commissioners during Tuesday’s meeting wore pink shirts and ties in honor of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a topic close to Commissioner Kenny Howell’s heart.
“My mom is a 25 year survivor of breast cancer,” Howell said. “She’s 83, about to turn 84 and she’s doing well and very healthy now thank goodness.”
Since he’s been on the court, Howell said he’s always made a point to mark breast cancer awareness.
“It’s something that some people think about more than others,” Howell said. “But, especially if you’ve been touched by it and someone in your family or someone you close to you has had cancer, you never think about it the same again.
So I’ve made it a point that we’re always going to have one court in October where we all wear pink. I text or call around and say, ‘Hey guys, time to wear pink again.’
“It’s a small way to pay tribute but something I hope helps raise awareness a little bit and pay tribute to those who have gone through breast cancer. And any awareness raised, I hope, helps contribute to bringing us closer to finding a cure.”