Commissioners issued the order Monday morning prohibiting outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of the county.
David Morgan, emergency management coordinator, made his recommendation to the court that the county had reached the point where there is now no option but to issue the ban.
“Sorry, I couldn’t deliver any rain,” Morgan said in jest.
“We are getting into dire straits again,” he said in a more serious tone.
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index places Bee County in the 700 to 800 range for dryness.
“There are a couple of places in the county where the Keetch-Byram Index is only 450-460. But about 85 percent of the county is at 600 or above,” he said.
For the past month, scattered showers have greened up parts of the county but even in these areas, the grass has withered and browned under the scorching August sun.
“The little rain we had caused really good growth of grass,” Morgan said. “It is now all dry and burnt and a tinder box ready to burn.”
Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez asked, “Will this be a complete burn ban?”
Morgan responded, “We cannot prohibit things the state allows and that is included in the order itself.”
This ban does not include the burning of trash as long as it is in a screen-covered container with 1/2-inch or smaller openings. The ban does not apply to state and federally allowed burning.
Commissioner Ken Haggard reminded, “Also add to that they contact the sheriff’s office prior to burning.”
Morgan interjected, “They need to contact the sheriff’s office so we aren’t chasing smoke.”
County Judge David Silva was also given the authority to lift the ban if conditions improve and the rains come before it expires in 90 days.
“It is going to have to be a big rain,” Morgan said.
Haggard added, “Judge, if you cannot get to the courthouse, that is enough rain.”
• Approved an inter-local agreement between Skidmore-Tynan ISD and the county for extending the width of the existing roadway on St. Mary’s Street from Tenth to the entrance of Elementary Drive.
• Renewed the cleaning contact with Velma Esquivel for the upcoming year.
• Approved the addition of one handicapped space to the courthouse parking lot.
• Discussed various items relating to the governing of the Bee Community Action Agency.
• Approved the county’s holiday schedule.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.