New burn ban ordinance gets unanimous vote on first reading

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Carroll County Quorum Court Justices of the Peace unanimously approved on Friday the first reading of an ordinance governing burn bans, with provisions for waivers from a ban and providing penalties for violations.

The language of the ordinance, which is based on the county's present burn ban ordinance, as well as ordinances in Benton and Boone counties, excludes fixed air-fueled ratio devices, such as furnaces, incinerators and gas grills. Charcoal pits, however, would be restricted.

Persons wishing to burn during a ban would be required to apply for a waiver from the fire chief for their area.

The ordinance empowers the county judge to proclaim a fire ban, with the quorum court able to do the same in the event of the judge's absence.

Such bans would apply to all persons, firms and corporations within the county.

The ordinance absolves the county, county judge, fire departments, and fire chiefs or their designees of liability for actions taken in granting a waiver from a ban on burning.

Violations of a burn ban carry a fine of $25 to $100 for the first offense, and between $50 and $200 for the second, with a possible 30-day jail sentence, for subsequent offenses.

Earlier in the meeting, Gene Bland of the Carroll-Boone Water District, spoke to the JPs, stating the district could make water available to citizens of the county even if they do not live in one of the three member cities, Eureka Springs, Berryville and Green Forest.

"We want to make sure it is understood that we are not here to take any present or future customers away from the three cities," he said.

"However," he continued, "if the cities are not in a position to provide water service to a part of the county, our agreement with the cities does allow the water district to provide this service, based upon our water line extension and connection policy, and subject to our agreement with the cities."

"We just want to make the court and the citizens of Carroll County aware of this possible option for their water needs," he said.

The district can pump about 15 million gallons of water each day from its treatment plant off Ark. Hwy 187 near Beaver Dam.

In the last fiscal year, ending September 2005, water usage was about 247 million gallons in Eureka Springs, 643 million in Berryville, 725 million gallonsin Green Forest, and 1,050,000,000 gallons in Harrison.

Water district assets consist of water storage space in Beaver Lake, a treatment plant, two five-million-gallon tanks on Pine Mountain, a one-million-gallon tank at Saunders Heights, and a distribution system from Beaver Lake to Harrison consisting of about 50 miles of 30-inch and 24-inch pipe and two booster stations.

After emphasizing the importance of water to the area's development, in closing Bland stated, "We believe a reliable water supply will provide the citizens of Carroll County with a means of fighting fires in rural areas, which should reduce insurance rates and provide additional safety."

JPs also unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the county judge to apply for a grant on behalf of the Grassy Knob Community.

The money raised by the community totals $3,975.90, and will be used as matching funds for a grant from the Arkansas Rural Community Grant Program to resurface the Grassy Knob Fire Department parking lot with asphalt to create a safe landing zone for air evacuations.

The quorum court also approved the second reading of an ordinance amending the Grassy Knob Subordinate Service District to include more lots.

In other business, the quorum court:

* Approved an ordinance designating $9,787.50 from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for purchase of bullet-proof vests, and $9,153 from the Department of Justice to be applied to comp time in the sheriff's office.

* Approved an ordinance designating $3,800, from the City of Berryville, for asphalt at the county road department. The money was paid by the developer at Birch Tree Subdivision, who tore up a county road. The check was made out to the wrong party, and the funds were turned over the county by the city.

* Heard requests from citizen Richard Williams that the county consider maintenance and operating budget impact in accepting grant monies for the county airport; and that the county judge and quorum court support Osage Valley Volunteer Emergency Responders. He also questioned conduct of auctions of confiscated property, and was told by Prosecuting Attorney Tony Rogers that the auctions are conducted within the proper time limit of seven years.

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