By Michael V. Hannigan
ATHENS – The burn ban continues.
Henderson County Commissioners’ Court decided against lifting the burn ban Tuesday when a motion by Pct. 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence to end the ban died for a lack of a second.
The ban has been in effect continuously since April.
Henderson County Fire Marshal Darrell Furrh told commissioners the Keetch-Byram Drought Index had gone up over the past week and averaged 639 across the county. A burn ban is usually initiated when the index reaches 575.
“The number you came to court with is not the one I was hoping for,” said Pct. 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin.
Geeslin reiterated a point he raised last week, pointing out the drought index is still higher than when the county initially set the burn ban.
That doesn’t mean Geeslin, or the other commissioners, aren’t looking forward to ending the ban sooner rather than later. Geeslin said his office is taking five to six calls a day about the issue, and said the amount of trash is growing.
“It is a real dilemma,” he said.
But except for Lawrence, who has questioned the drought index accuracy in the past, commissioners came down on the side of caution.
“The problem is we still have people who do not use common sense when burning,” said Pct. 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney.
Because tha ban is set to lapse next week, commissioners will discuss the issue again on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Ignoring the burn ban is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500.
Here is a link to the complete burn ban ordinance.