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July 31, 2012

Burn ban in effect for western part of Henderson County

Athens — Henderson County is wide enough to be fairly wet on one end and extremely dry on the other.

The Commissioners Court took that into account Tuesday, and issued a burn ban for the part of the county west of State Highway 19. A ban on the east side could follow, if dry conditions continue.

Henderson County Fire Marshall Darrell Furrh said he’d never asked for a burn ban on a portion of the county before, but added that state law allows the Commissioners that option.

The Keetch-Byrum Index, which is used to measure moisture in the soil, has a bench-mark reading of 575. Any reading over that means it’s dry enough to consider a burn ban, Furrh said.

Furrh said he spoke with most of the fire chiefs on the west side of the county, and they were in agreement that it was time to enact a ban. Gun Barrel City, Enchanted Oaks and Tool have already activated their own burn bans, he said.

The average Keetch-Byrum reading for the county was 644 Tuesday, but on the west end it was parched 731.

The east side was in better shape at 456, but a few more days without rain would put it 575 mark.

Furrh said he chose State Highway  19 as the dividing line because it was in the center of the county from Van Zandt County to the Anderson County line. He added that the Murchison area was also quite dry, and urged citizens there to be extremely cautious with any outdoor burning.

Kaufman, Ellis and Navarro Counties already have burn bans in place, Furrh said. Van Zandt and Anderson counties are moving in that direction.

In other action, even as voters were going to the polls in the runoff election, Commissioners approved lease agreements with several entities to use voting machines in November.  The county entered contracts with The Cross Roads Independent School District, Brownsboro ISD, La Poynor ISD, the City of Trinidad, the City of Murchison and the East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District.

The commissioners also approved;

• a lease agreement to continue to rent space from the City of Seven Points for the West End Sub-courthouse;

• payment of state fees in the amount of $173,547.05; and

• payment of bills in the amount of $343,328.83.

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