Burn ban continues

March 16, 2011

Nolan County Commissioners' Court meeting

The Nolan County Commissioners' Court met for a regular meeting on Monday morning, March 14, at the Nolan County Courthouse.
An approval was made for the renaming of CR 304 to East Alabama Avenue due to annexation and 911 addressing. The name change would affect about 200 yards into town until the road crosses under I-20. In an effort to simplify and assist 911 dispatchers, the name change should prove to be beneficial and no longer confusing.
In addition, the commissioners approved to continue the burn ban for Nolan County with one exception. A local rancher was given permission to burn off wheat stubble on his property as the weather permits.
Yet another action item which was approved was to begin advertising for bids for the Nolan County Depository for bank funds for the next four years. Also approved were the reappointments for two seats on the Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium Board.
Ken Becker and Jan Smith, both who have served on the board, were reassigned as county appointees. The terms for both Becker and Smith span two years and will end in February 2013.
Furthermore, approval was sought and received to give assistance with septic system repair to two applicants. The repair would be done by Big County RC&D Area Inc., and over $10,000 is reserved for the project. Therefore, each applicant would receive about $5,000.
However, one item which was not on the agenda was an agreement to possibly join the West Texas Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases.
The program is an insurance risk pool which enacts an available policy as needed. Four positions would need to be appointed, including two attorneys, a mitigation specialist and an investigator. The policy would be used to pay these positions along with any travel expenses that may incur.
Great success has been seen with the program in that about 85 counties have joined. Because there would be too many cases to budget, however, counties over 300,000 in population are not eligible.
While half of the eligibility is based on population, the other half is accounted in the number of capital murder cases between 1998 through 2007. But should the county consider joining, a number of premiums would need to be paid.
Because the item was not on the agenda, no action could be taken but could only be discussed about the program.
One such topic heavily discussed was increase in the amount of reimbursement on indigent burials. An indigent burial is for those who meet federal poverty guidelines and cannot afford high funeral costs.
It was believed that a decision had been made on the subject in the past, yet no minutes could be found. Along with the raise in rates, approval was also being considered for various guidelines for indigent burials.
The commissioners were asked to set the guidelines in order to appease angry family members who want proof on the instructions that are in place. Such decisions include establishing a travel radius in order to pick up and transport bodies or ashes, where to place the ashes, and temporary markers.
The increase in reimbursement amounts were approved in four areas, now standing at $500, $800, $1000 and $1200. However, while some decisions were made in the guidelines for indigent burials, no official approval was made in order to seek more information.
The minutes from the Feb. 28 meeting were also approved, and four reports were received from the Veterans Service Office and the Nolan County Clerk, Auditor, and tax office.

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