County enacts 90-day burn ban


Gillespie County Commissioners implemented a 90-day burn ban on Monday morning. 

The ban prohibits any open burning in the unincorporated areas of Gillespie County, except for the burning of combustible materials in approved enclosures, such as trash barrels and charcoal grills. 

Gillespie County Fire Marshal Steve Olfers said the ban was recommended due to dry and hot conditions and lack of significant rainfall. 

“We’ve noticed a slight uptick in wildlife type issues and the Texas Forest Service will note that they have been quite busy and have limited resources,” Olfers said. “Unfortunately, this weekend we didn’t get as much precipitation from Hurricane Hanna as we thought. When you look at neighboring counties, most are in a burn ban, with the exception of Kerr.” 

“Were all of the chiefs pretty well in agreement with this, Steve?”  Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher asked. “I know sometimes they can be split.” 

“They saw it not just from a safety standpoint but there were other concerns on how to enforce the ban, who enforces the ban and, in many ways, the ban makes things easier but it also helps encourage things to be safer,” Olfers said.

The order can be lifted at any time during the 90-day period with the guidance of Olfers and Stroeher. 

“If we do have some kind of rain, Steve and I can talk about lifting it in between that 90-day period,” Stroeher said.


Facilities update

Commissioners also approved the purchase and installation of audio-visual materials and data cables at the new Gillespie County AgriLife Extension building and the new Facilities Maintenance/Information Technologies building.

Rufo Reyes, of Vanir Construction Management, Inc., presented the court with a new audio-visual system that will be installed in the multipurpose room at the new Gillespie County AgriLife Extension building. Ford AV will be installing the system. 

Total cost will be $77,853 in addition to a preventative maintenance option for an additional $2,980. The preventative maintenance plan includes a warranty for the first year. 

“Let’s say 10 months down the line, there is an issue, they come and assess the system and make any adjustment,” Reyes said. “This also includes training for the system. Leadership from different community groups can come to a training program and learn how it works and operates so that when they use it, they use it effectively.” 

Pct. 1 Commissioner Charles Olfers asked what benefits the preventative maintenance plan has. 

“I can foresee this multipurpose room being used a lot and I think spending the extra money would be a good idea,” Reyes said. 

Reyes reminded the commissioners that technology is always evolving and the system can be added to down the line if needed. 

Commissioners also approved proposals from Weaver Technologies for network cabling at both facilities. Total cost would be $56,060 for the AgriLife building and $53,906 for the Facilities/Maintenance building. 

“This would be used for low-voltage cabling and infrastructure for a potential video surveillance system should the county want to install one in the future,” Reyes said. “It would also include full coverage for hardwired and wireless internet in all office spaces and the multipurpose room.”

Both requests met the budgets set by the commissioners. 


Plat revision

Commissioners approved a request to revise Plat 9 in the Grosser Himmel subdivision, located in Precinct 4. 

Neighbors in the subdivision voiced concerns as plans indicated landowners wanted to build a house and hunt on the property. Neighbors were also concerned about aquifer use and levels. 

“We are concerned that this could set a precedent to other plats to be subdivided, we could very well have someone come in and build cabins which would cause extra traffic and put a burden on the aquifer for the well,” said resident Carl Ivan Dobsky.  

Stroeher reminded those speaking that the commissioner’s court is solely responsible for making sure subdivision regulations set by the county and the state are followed. They do not have the power to determine if homeowner association or deed restrictions are being violated. 

“All we can do is make sure that the regulations set by the state and the county are followed,” Pct. 4 Commissioner Donnie Schuch said. “The homeowner association and the deed restriction information, that is something we don’t have authority over. Our hands are tied in terms of enforcing HOA or deed restrictions.” 

“Even if it may conflict with something in the deed restriction or the HOA, that is between property owners,” Stroeher said, “The county can’t be involved in that process.” 


Commissioners also:

•  Agreed to repaint taxi and parking lines on the north T-hangar ramp at the Gillespie County Airport. The project qualifies under the Routine Airport Maintenance Program so the county will be responsible for 50% of the cost. 

•  Agreed to purchase 3,500 ballot-by-mail kits for the Elections Department. Due to the increase in mail-in ballot requests, Elections Administrator Anissa Herrera requested extra kits ahead of the November General Election. 

•  Approved a request from Justice of the Peace Pct. 4 Carl Schoessow to transfer the justice of the peace clerk from full time to part time. The position moving forward would be part time. 

•  Approved restoration work to be completed on the floors at the Wrede School. 

•  Approved funds for repairs to be done at a low-water crossing on Loudon Road. The crossing would be closed for about two weeks and total cost is estimated not to exceed $15,000. 

•  Gillespie County Commissioners will next meet at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 10.