Hill County commissioners enact 30-day burn ban

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

November 2, 2022

The Hill County Commissioners Court met in a regular session Tuesday, October 25, and approved a 30-day burn ban in the county.

The decision was made amid concerns that dry conditions will quickly return after recent rainfall and as drought conditions persist in the county. With commissioners meeting twice a month, the court decided that the wildfire risk was too great to put the decision off another two weeks.

Outdoor burning will be prohibited through Thursday, November 24, unless the court takes action to lift the ban prior to that date.

The order bans burning in all unincorporated areas of the county. This includes all outdoor fires, including fires burned in a container or semi-enclosure, such as a barrel or hopper. It does not include grills or smokers used to cook food as long as they are attended.

The use of welders or cutting torches is also prohibited without adequate fire suppression equipment and personnel, including a fire extinguisher within 30 feet and an individual serving as a fire monitor during the activities and for at least 30 minutes afterwards.

The order does not apply to outdoor burning related to public health and safety that is authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for firefighter training, utility operations, planting or harvesting of crops or burning conducted by a certified and insured prescribed burn manager that meets certain standards.

In other action, the court approved a resolution requesting the transfer of Spur 308 in Birome from the Texas Department of Transportation to the county.

The small state spur comes off of Farm Road 308 and only serves the Birome cotton gin. If the state transfers ownership to the county, the county could abandon it and allow the gin to expand its operations.
The court also held a public hearing on the cancellation of a portion of the Giles subdivision in the Brandon community.

Bob Fuller and Beverly Laffin applied to have several lots and two contiguous roads, Hogg Street and Ross Avenue, canceled and reverted to acreage tracts. The lots were laid out when the community was created and remained undeveloped, and the landowner has been unable to build a fence because the initial plans show city streets on the property.

Without a city council to take action, the commissioners court has the authority to address the issue.

No public comments were received in opposition to the change, and commissioners approved the cancellation.

The court considered several agenda items related to property.

A final plat was approved for the Longview Creek Ranch subdivision on HCR 4307 in Itasca. The developer, LCTXLP, LLC, is dividing approximately 165 acres into homesites. An escrow agreement was also approved, indicating that the developer will set aside money for required street, curb and drainage improvements to comply with the county’s subdivision regulations.

Also approved were final plats for the Wideman Subdivision, involving a three-lot subdivision off of HCR 2106 in the Prairie Valley area of Whitney, and Auten Acres, which is also in the Prairie Valley area and involves the division of property into two lots.

A final plat for the Baron’s Square subdivision, located in the area of Farm Road 2114 and HCR 3308 in the Hubbard area, was also on the agenda. The court took no action, as the county requires developers to have water hookups available prior to approving a final plat. The developer was given the option of putting the money for water access in escrow so the process can proceed.

Quarterly investment reports submitted by Treasurer Rhonda Burkhart and Auditor Susan Swilling were observed and recorded by the court. The report ending March 31 showed a total Hill County investment funds balance, including cash management earnings and certificate of deposit interest earnings, of $23,957,235. For the quarter ending June 30, the earnings totaled $23,673,984.

Other actions taken by the court included approving publication of a request for proposals from auditing firms, approval of Texas Justice Court Training expenses for Shannon Skilling, and approving minor modifications to the sheriff’s office pay schedule, including the addition of school resource officers.

Commissioners also approved a five-year renewal agreement for support of the Spillman dispatch operating system at the sheriff’s office and approved the purchase of two more handheld radios for constables.

In open forum, a resident of HCR 1343W in Precinct 2 presented a petition to the court regarding problems with dust from the roadway creating a nuisance for residents. Commissioner Larry Crumpton said that dust from gravel roads is a problem for many residents, and the short stretch of road is on his list of areas to address when the Texas Department of Transportation releases asphalt for the project.

The court’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, November 8, at 8:30 a.m. at the Hill County Courthouse.

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