Conditions are dryer in southern JWC

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

With drought conditions improving slightly during the last week, Jim Wells County Commissioners decided to table a decision on the county burn ban until their Dec. 10 meeting.

Last week, the county experienced numbers between 600 and 700 on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which is a scale county officials use to evaluate the severity of dry conditions.

JWC Safety Officer Israel Lopez said this week's numbers, which came in between 500 and 600, diminished with the little precipitation the area received.

Lopez said the area is expecting more precipitation by the end of the week, but the county is still dry, especially in the southern portion of JWC, which displayed dryer conditions on the KBDI.

"If they're going to burn, they need to follow TCEQ burn regulations," Lopez said. "They have to use common sense out there. It is still dry."

The rules for outdoor burning in Texas can be found at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Web site at www.tceq.state.tx.us/comm_exec/forms_pubs/pubs/rg/rg-049.html.

During other county business, Brooks County Judge Raul Ramirez, along with Brooks County Commissioner Tony Martinez, visited the court on Monday to discuss the current need for a septic tank inspector for Brooks County.

Ramirez said their county is currently between licensed inspectors, and the individual who will fill the position still needs certification.

Florentino Rivera, the designated representative for the JWC Safety Office, is licensed to conduct septic inspections, and with the approval from Jim Wells County Commissioners, will assist Brooks County until the new employee becomes certified.

Rivera said he wasn't sure how many inspections will need to be completed in Brooks County, but he did say that his focus will be on the residents of JWC first.

"I'm going to take care of our county first," Rivera said.

"Then in the time I have left, I'll do their inspections. It won't be for long."

The new employee at Brooks County still has one class to take, which is a 40-hour course starting in late January. If he passes, he will be certified to perform the needed inspections for Brooks County. Rivera said he doesn't foresee any problem handling inspections for both counties.