Johnson County commissioners agreed with each other Monday long enough to rescind the burn ban.
Otherwise, they disagreed about spending priorities for Market Square and admitted miscommunication about a tower intended to improve communication.
“We’ve had plenty of rain,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Jerry Stringer said as he made a motion to rescind the burn ban. It was seconded by Precinct 1 Commissioner Rick Bailey and supported unanimously.
The ban was put into effect Aug. 6. It prohibits all outdoor burning in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Rescinding the ban enables farmers, ranchers and other rural residents to resume burning.
Market Square trudges along
In the continuing saga of Market Square, the farmers’ market area in downtown Cleburne, Bailey, in whose precinct the square is located, said he is not happy with the only bid ($32,886) received for stone work. He said the proposed marquee digital sign will take most of the budget and asked his colleagues for suggestions.
“I suggest we forgo the marquee sign and put the money into stone,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Don Beeson said.
“I support that,” Stringer said.
Bailey did not agree.
“I am not in favor of eliminating the marquee sign,” he said. “If we do the marquee, we need to do it now. The sign will announce events for the entire city. Our overall scope was to enhance that historical property.”
“There’s nothing historical about the marquee sign,” Beeson said.
Bailey said he would downsize the scope of stone work, putting stone only around the entry way and around the marquee sign.
“We need to back up, review the budget and do the archway, marquee sign and some stone work,” Bailey said.
County Judge Roger Harmon recommended finishing the stone work and then reviewing the budget.
“We’re not far off budget,” he said. “Let’s do it right.”
Budget coordinator Holly Morris said there is $37,000 in the Market Square budget.
“Let’s go forward, but make sure the money will fit what we’re going to do,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Kenny Howell said.
“I am not in favor of spending any more money on this,” Stringer said. “We’re nickle and diming this together. First, there was a split-rail fence, then the bathroom, then brick work, then stone work and now a marquee sign.”
Bailey moved to table the topic until he can present another option for the stone work and marquee sign. Commissioners agreed to table the item.
A fourth communication tower will cost $687,000
A new communication tower in Precinct 2 is complete, testing is going good and the Astro 25 Public Communication System is moving along toward completion, Motorola Senior Account Manager Trevlyn Pitner told the court.
“But there’s a hole in the southwest corner of the county, around Fisherman’s Paradise,” Pitner said.
Towers in Alvarado, Burleson and Cleburne are already in place for the county-wide communication system that will enable all emergency first responders to communicate with each other and similar agencies in Fort Worth.
Johnson County has already spent $3.7 million to build the towers and purchase the necessary radios, transmitters and other equipment.
A secure and lightly populated site near Fisherman’s Paradise has been identified as a good location for a fourth tower, Pitner said.
“Building a tower there strengthen and improve the Internet service for the people around Fisherman’s Paradise (should an antenna be located on the tower),” Pitner said.
The tower will cost $687,000, he said.
“If we’re spending this kind of money, we need 100 percent coverage of the county,” Bailey said. “We’ve already spent $3.7 million. We have to do this right.”
Somervell and Hill counties will have the opportunity to place communication equipment on this tower, Bailey said.
“If any site has the opportunity to pay for itself, it’s this tower,” he said. The only way I supported this project two years ago was for 100 percent coverage.”
There are two problems, Harmon said.
“One, we don’t have the budget for this,” he said. “Secondly, you’re putting his tower in the center of a residential area. You’re going to decrease the value of all the homes in that sub-division. I think you should take this to the homeowners association. You need their stamp of approval.”
Stringer remembered the initial discussions about a fourth tower.
“I recall the original motion on this project two years ago,” he said. “We voted to spend $3.7 million on three towers and set aside $600,000 for a fourth tower. The original deal was to total $4.3 million.”
(Editor’s note: Stringer is correct. Burleson Star archives indicate Beeson made the original motion May 23, 2011. It was seconded by Stringer and approved by a vote of 4-1, with Harmon voting nay.)
Commissioners decided to table the issue while they review the original motions.
Bailey moved to table the item. His motion was seconded by Beeson.
Harmon excused himself from the vote because he owns property in Fisherman’s Paradise, he said.
In other business, commissioners accepted a report from architect Alan Magee on the status of the new adult probation building and the new Alvarado sub-courthouse.
Brick work has began on the adult probation building, and soil samples will be taken on the sub courthouse, he said.
The property for the sub-courthouse will be closed in January, Stringer said.
Commissioners agreed to abate property at 5713 Robert Circle in Alvarado as a nuisance property.
County code enforcement officer Det. Steve Shaw said the property is owned by Teresa Ann Sparks of Knoxville, Tenn.
"She refused three certified letters we sent to her telling her to clean up the property," Shaw said. "We contacted the Knoxville PD, who delivered another letter to her."
Complaints about the property were received from neighbors, Shaw said.
The meeting opened with the presentation of years-of-service pins to county employees.
Those receiving 10-year pins were Carolyn Johnson of the county clerk’s office, Iryna Spangler of the Judge Robert Mayfield’s office, Diane Norton and Jennifer Vanderlaan of the adult probation office, and Tanya Dunlap, Bradley Elkins and Phillip Martin of the sheriff’s office.
Receiving five-year pins were Courtney Osier of the county clerk’s office, Crystal Riley of the district attorney’s office, Betty Murrah of the district clerk’s office, Michael Sandoval of Precinct 3, James McElroy of Precinct 4, Lee Anne Frost and Daphne O’Neal of the public works department, and Charles Brantley, Kelley Carter and Teri Cruze of the sheriff’s department.