Burn ban lifted, mosquito plane closer to spraying
County commissioners received a good audit report, lifted the 2009 burn ban for at least one week and were pleased to hear the county’s mosquito control plane may begin spraying in August.
In special session Monday, Mosquito Control Director Patrick Beebe said the department and 1981 Cessna aircraft recently completed a rigorous inspection process by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The plane and pilot Patrick Bourke also performed a check-flight approved by the FAA. Beebe and his office staff must meet with FAA officials at least once before the plane can fly on a regular basis.
As for the ban lift, Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley said that, compared to last week there are fewer areas in the county measured in the 600-700 range of the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (800 is the highest). Most areas have dropped into the 500-600 range, he said.
“I have some notes for you,” he told the court. “As it thunders outside.”
County Judge Carl Thibodeaux has the authority the reinstate the ban without a commissioners meeting, and said he would do so if “ … things get out of hand.”
“There is a good chance for some showers through most of the week,” Kelley said. “We have more … Texas Forest Service assets in the area than what we had when we started [the ban] … We’ll watch real carefully those areas that are still ‘hot’.”
Kelley also reported that a study by Beck Disaster Recovery came back favorably upon the county. The study reviewed FEMA project worksheets, which document activities and repairs eligible for reimbursement through FEMA.
“I asked Beck to come in and look at everything we did with Hurricane Ike,” he said. “To look at every dollar we spent, every project worksheet and the whole financial picture.” In a summary Kelley provided to the media, the company found that, “The county has an extremely well-developed financial documentation system in place to track records, invoices and supplementary information associated with each [project worksheet].”
The report did recommend to extend staff training in a few areas.
“Some of these things – we are doing already,” Kelley said.
Chris Pruitt with the firm of Pattillo, Brown and Hill, presenting the 2008 audit, reported an “unqualified opinion” – the highest statement a client can receive.
“This year was a little different because of [Hurricane Ike] with some of the record-keeping. It created a few problems we don’t usually have,” he said. The county’s general fund is at about $12.7
million, he said, slightly up from this time last year.
In other business:
• Woody Dugas of Vidor asked commissioners to consider a leash law proposal for the November ballot. Thibodeaux said that any leash law would require the building and maintenance of a county animal shelter, which Dugas suggested could easily be handled, if approved by voters, with a half-cent or one-cent sales tax. A study will be commissioned and reported on later, Thibodeaux said.
• Commissioners voted to take legal action against Shannon Beard of Vidor for alleged sewer system violations. Commissioners’ legal advisor Doug Manning said Beard’s system is malfunctioning and violates several provisions set forth in the Texas Water Code and the Texas Health and Safety Code. “We’ll be making a proactive effort to get this thing into court a lot sooner than in the past,” he said.