McCullough Presents Commission with Ideas to Solve Current Inability to Declare Fireworks Ban
By DALE GRAHAM
Recently temperatures returned to their normal, sweltering numbers, rain fell, and the burn ban was rescinded (see inset), but County Mayor David McCullough doesn’t want to find his hands tied again in the future when drought conditions exist, a burn ban is put into place, and residents are asked to use “good common sense” with regards to sending flaming fireballs into the night sky on July 4th or any other day.
“In the future, if you would like for me to ban fireworks because we are in a drought as we just experienced, there are 2 ways that are immediate, and one that will take some work”, McCullough explained.
One way is by simple resolution of the county commission stating that in the event of moderate/severe drought the mayor would have the authority to ban fireworks.
The second way is to pass a “county powers act”.
McCullough said that his choice would be to lobby the state to implement a process like the burn ban, where the request is made to the state forestry department for a fireworks ban, and they accept or reject it based on conditions. “That way it can be individualized for each county”, McCullough explained. He added that he had at least 100 calls from residents very concerned about fireworks and drought conditions over the recent holiday. McCullough suggested that the commission’s Calendar and Rules Committee to discuss and come up with a plan.
In other business Monday night, the commission approved (11 yes, David Davidson absent) the setting of the tax levy for status quo budget year 2012 – 2013, at $2.78. That figure is broken down into: $1.071 for county general; .075 for roads; .295 to education debt service; .075 to general debt service; .109 to solid waste/sanitation; $1.145 to general purpose schools, and; .01 to capital projects /vehicles.
Those numbers reflect some fund shifting in order to fund a Veteran’s Service Officer Position. Commissioner Walter Weakley asked the item be added to the budget, setting up the position to begin Sept 1st, 2012, not to exceed $28,510 salary and office start up for the 2012-2013 budget year. Weakley explained at the beginning of the meeting that Cheatham was 1 of only 2 counties out of the state’s 95 that did not have a Veteran’s Affairs office. The motion was seconded by 6th District Commissioner Jimmy Hedgepath and approved 11 yes, 1 absent.
STATE ISSUED BURN BAN RESCINDED FOR CHEATHAM COUNTY
Change in local weather pattern provides enough relief to reduce wildfire threat
State Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson has rescinded the burn ban put in place for Cheatham County. The ban was lifted as a result of a change in the weather pattern seen in the area over the past couple of days, and which is expected to continue.
The ban had applied to all open-air burning including leaf and woody debris and construction burning, campfires, outdoor grills and other fire activity outside of municipalities where local ordinances took precedent. Although recently outdoor grills were removed from the ban due to improved conditions.
Under state law, the commissioner of agriculture, in consultation with the state forester, has the authority to issue burn bans at the request of county mayors under certain weather conditions. Requests from county mayors for a burn ban are considered in consultation with the state forester based on a number of factors including weather, climate, fire danger, fire occurrence and resource availability.
“We’re working with local officials to determine where and when it is safe to conduct activity related to outdoor burning,” Johnson said. “Even though the ban has been rescinded, we want to encourage the public to continue to use good judgment and to avoid situations that can cause fire.”
Major causes of wildfire seen across the state this year include sparks from field equipment and vehicles, escaped debris burns, discarded cigarettes, lightning, campfires, arson and fireworks. Citizens can help support their local fire departments by checking for and following local burn restrictions and quickly reporting any wildfire.
Forestry officials continue to urge caution with any activity that could lead to a wildfire. They offer the following fire prevention tips:
• Take precautions when using farm and other equipment (bush hogs, balers, lawn mowers, ATVs, etc.) or anything with an exhaust system, including parked cars, that could create a spark near dry vegetation.
• Check first for local burn ordinances.
• Report fire activity immediately to your local fire department.
• When conditions are safe to conduct a debris burn, notify your fire department and neighbors, don’t burn on windy days, establish a wide control line down to mineral soil, keep fire containment equipment and water on hand, and stay with the fire until it is completely out.
Additional fire safety tips, as well as up-to-date wildfire information including counties still under a burn ban, can be found on the TDA Division of Forestry’s wildfire prevention website at www.burnsafetn.org.