Cooke County officials agreed drought conditions are expected to persist into October, and their current burn ban and related restrictions remain in effect.

During Monday’s commissioners’ court meeting, they voted to retain a countywide burn ban plus a disaster declaration that prohibits the use of fireworks in unincorporated county areas. Outdoor welding and cooking are still allowed under restrictive conditions.

Fire Marshal Ray Fletcher announced a current average drought index of 739, a number indicating the county is in “extreme” dryness. He also cited recent fires at Nelson Grove Cemetery, near Woodbine, caused by a power line; near Highway 82, spanning 80 acres; and near County Road 106, west of Dexter, apparently triggered by lightning weeks earlier.

Fletcher admitted he can foresee similar problems in weeks to come.

“The outlook is not positive at all,” he told commissioners. “Through October, the persistence of drought will continue.”

Other meeting highlights:

• The court approved County Clerk Rebecca Lawson’s records preservation plan for the coming year. In phases during the past year, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) associates have visited the clerk’s office and scanned county records, converting them into computer files. Lawson said the process continues, that she and her staff are waiting for ACS to complete the work of making the files available online.

• The court approved setting a date of Aug. 18 for hearings regarding the proposed fiscal year 2012 budget, plus the proposed tax rate; and approved the date of Aug. 29 for a second tax code hearing.

• The court approved a renewal of a two-year interlocal agreement with the Texoma Council of Governments. The agreement continues TCOG’s delivery of 911 service to the Cooke County sheriff’s department.

• Commissioners approved these consent agenda items: fiscal year 2011 budget amendments; monthly bills; payroll and related expenses; the acceptance of surplus railing items from the Texas Department of Transportation to all Cooke County road and bridge precincts; a non-financial child welfare services contract to maintain the Cooke County Child Welfare Board; the Pct. 4 constable a Chapter 59 asset forfeiture report; a rebate check from Office Depot in the amount of $527.68; the NETLS CE scholarship grant for $200 for the Cooke County Library; the Target Early Childhood Reading Grant for Cooke County Library's “1,2,3, the Story is Coming to Me" program in the amount of $2,000; a donation in the amount of $10 to the Cooke County Library from Charles Lee for research; a collaborative working agreement between Abigail’s Arms and the Cooke County Sheriff’s Office; acceptance of proceeds from the sale of real property from the Precinct 4 commissioner to Muenster ISD in the amount of $29,750; approval of EOG Resources Inc. to run a temporary water transfer line within the right of way on the west side of County Road 388; updates to Nationwide plan documents regarding the annual renewal service agreement between Cooke County and Geo Med Waste of Texas for services provided to the Cooke County Justice Center; the annual renewal service agreement between Cooke County and Geo Med Waste of Texas for services provided to the Cooke County EMS; approval of EOG Resources, Inc. to conducting a geophysical survey across and within the right-of-way of CR328, CR330, CR373, CR398, CR334, CR371, and CR379 beginning at NW corner being 33*29’17.85”N 97*28’17.86”W to NE corner at 33*29’59.66”N 97*23’54.89”W continuing to SE corner 33*24’1.27”N 97*20’.11.86W and ending SW 33*23’11.50N 97*24’21.17”W; necessary changes to Section 4: Circulation Services; Letter C: Loan periods and limits of the 2008 Cooke County Library policy changes.

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