Department is there to assist and protect
Apr 05, 2008 | 664 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Posted Saturday, July 19 – The three-member staff of the Bee County Community Affairs Department has been busy as beavers for the past six years.

The supervisor and two staff members initiated a record number of legal actions against county residents who violated solid waste regulations, according to information released to the Bee-Picayune through the Texas Public Information Act.

The BCCA office filed complaints in 2007 against 12 people accused of violating solid waste statutes, according to the documents provided to the newspaper.

The three-member staff is comprised of director Dennis DeWitt, who also acts as veterans service officer, Ron Fritz, health officer, and Oscar Toliver Jr., assistant veterans service officer.

Together, they are responsible for a myriad of duties involving health, veterans and permits.

Here’s what the BCCA department has accomplished in 2007:

521 development permits issued to new homeowners or residents who moved into homes in the county. To receive a development permit, county residents must have a proper sewer septic system on site before they can have their power turned on. DeWitt and Fritz inspect each site to ensure the septic systems qualify before they authorize the power company to turn on the electricity to the residence.

“The development permits are an ideal way for the county to help make sure that substandard or failing septic systems are replaced in the county,” he explained. “People cannot get their lights or electricity turned on until we know they have the proper septic system in place.”

In decades past, new homeowners or even renters would simply live with failing or substandard septic tanks, even if they leached into water wells nearby, he said.

At least 90 percent of homeowners who live in the county rely on septic systems and water wells, he noted.

“People generally don’t like to live without lights and electricity so they do all they can to get their septic system in compliance with county and state law,” he added.

DeWitt’s team inspected 74 septic systems in the rural parts of Bee County last year, records revealed.

Fortunately, many county residents have had their inadequate septic tanks replaced with newer state-of-the-art septic systems free of charge, thanks to two state grants.

Approximately 150 property owners in Bee County have qualified for the free septic systems, DeWitt noted.

Because of the BCCA’s efforts to keep underground water sources free of pollutants, the state of Texas has funded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fresh water improvements projects in the unincorporated communities of Tynan and Skidmore, DeWitt said.

The BCCA team also issued 191 health permits to local food establishments and inspected 227 food establishments in Bee County in 2007, according to the open records documents.

Additionally, 1,094 food handlers training permits were issued to employees of local food establishments last year, records revealed.

“We’ve trained over 8,700 food handlers since I took office in 2000,” he said.

The BCCA trio also sold 21 Heimlich Maneuver posters to local food establishments last year. The posters illustrate the method employees are to use to dislodge food from the throat of choking patrons.

The Veterans Service division of the BCCA offered consulting services to 507 veterans in 2007, helping them apply for veterans benefits or simply helping them find answers to their military background.

DeWitt and Fritz investigated 33 health and sanitation complaints lodged against county residents last year.

Documents submitted to the Bee-Picayune through the Open Records Act also reveal that the BCCA issued 16 soilboring or pipeline-boring permits in 2007.

“Before I got here the county was absorbing the cost of repairing the roads and rights of ways after an oil field company bored through a county road,” he said. “Now those companies have to pay a fee and that money is used to repair the roads if necessary.”

The BCCA team also inspected 10 foster homes to see if they were safe for children and met state requirements, and issued 10 foster home permits to the homeowners.

The Beeville Volunteer Fire Department also inspects foster homes, DeWitt said.

The BCCA trio also conducted seven detailed-in-site flood plain analysis for property owners interested in knowing whether their property and homes were located in a flood plain, and if so, when was the last flood in that area and how bad.
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