County plans aggressive environmental enforcement
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 1, 2006 -- Hopkins County Commissioners Court on Monday appointed Jerry Pierce, county septic inspector, as litter abatement officer. He takes over those duties from environmental enforcement officer Chris Hill, who resigned last week to begin a new career outside of the county.

A half-time position was also designated for a peace officer/certified jailer to assist Pierce in his duties, which also include environmental enforcement.

Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap said the new assignment will be marked with more aggressive enforcement of environmental and litter law.

"We will aggressively go after violators who dump trash, debris, dead animals and other hazardous  materials in waterways, streams and along county roads," Millsap said. "We will be setting up surveillance equipment obtained through a grant from ArkTex Solid Waster Committee. We will be aggressively going after these violators so we want to let people know we will be taking action on these issues."

Also on Monday, commissioners approved a new description for the position of Hopkins County Regional Civic Center manager, a post vacated by Joey Baker when he recently accepted the post of Sulphur Springs airport manager.

This marks the first time since 1985 that the outline for the position and requirements for candidates has been updated, according to Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap. The new description will soon be posted, and officials will later begin vetting potential candidates through the interview process.

The commissioners court also heard from Randall Nichols, who filed a complaint of impassable roads near the Kempenaar dairy in Precinct 2. Pierce has already been investigating the claim, according to Precinct 2 Commissioner Burk Bullock, finding that the road was covered by water after each recent rainfall because the  natural drainage for the road has been clogged by both cow manure and water.

"We can correct this very easily with [the dairy owner's] consent. Pierce is working with him and is very confident this can be resolved. He will continue investigating and come back before the court. We will then take action on his recommendation," Bullock said Monday.

The matter may require litigation if it is not readily resolved, according to Millsap and Bullock.

A meeting of the county's volunteer fire chiefs with the county commissioners  has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, in the commissioner's courtroom at Hopkins County Courthouse.

Among the issues to be discussed during that evening meeting will be the current burn ban as well as wildfire reports since the revised burn ban, and whether adequate funding for repair and maintenance of firefighting vehicles is available to keep up with those needs. The county fire response areas, fire dispatch issues, ISO paperwork, identification of all county-issued radios to volunteer fire departments, and a future meeting the the volunteer fire department chiefs are also among the agenda items for the Feb. 7 meeting.

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