The Marion County Commission unanimously agreed at its March 13 meeting to amend the 2014 resolution from 12 hours to four hours when calling dispatch for permission to initiate a controlled burn.
In addition to the change in hours, commissioners agreed to go over the latest proposal at a town meeting prior to next year’s burn season so that everyone can offer input.
According to the 2014 regulations, if wind speeds are projected over 20 mph within 12 hours from the time someone calls, permission wouldn’t be granted.
However, in the proposed resolution, the commission is looking at fire weather indices, which take into account more than wind speeds.
A stumbling block for landowners was the 12-hour window.
Lester Kaiser, Lincolnville fire chief, said he remembers why the longer wait time was implemented.
“The reason it changed was because there were a lot of brush fires, and (people) weren’t looking down range,” he said.“It would be three and four days down range with 20 to 30 mph gusts, and we were chasing fires.”
Kaiser said once a perimeter is “contained” and the brush pile is in the middle of the pasture or farm ground, the fire has nowhere to go.
“That’s why we changed the wording to ‘contain’ as opposed to the fire being ‘out,’” he said.
It isn’t a problem for the majority of people when planning and carrying out a controlled burn, Kaiser said, it’s that 3 percent causing problems.
Commission chair Randy Dallke asked Sheriff Rob Craft about the change in hours for dispatchers.
Craft said it’s whatever the commissioners decide.
The commissioners went with at or above 21 mph.
Prior to the vote, Matt Voth, Goessel fire chief, and Nathan Paganhoff, Lost Springs fire chief, went over changes in the proposed resolution.
Many individuals attending the meeting had concerns about the Marion County Emergency Management director and individual fire chiefs having authority to impose a burn ban countywide or in their respective districts.
Individuals speaking out about various aspects of the proposed resolution included Chuck McLinden, Schmidt, Chase Gann, Leroy Kraus, Steve Butts and commissioner-elect Kent Becker.
In other business, the commissioners:
• accepted Teresa Huffman’s resignation as the county economic development director with her last day being May 8. No reason was given for her decision. Before the announcement, Huffman asked commissioners for a 20-minute executive session for personnel performance.
• talked with Diedre Serene, director of public health, about a grant application.
• spoke with Emma Tajchman, director of the county’s planning, zoning and environment health, regarding Gavin Shields and efforts to clean up the property he rented in Lincolnville. Tajchman said that from the road she couldn’t see that Shields had made any progress.
The commissioners gave Shields until July 31, which was another extension, to remove old cars and tires. As it stands, they said, the property is an opportunity for disease from standing water and being a public nuisance.
• gave Ed Debesis, EMS director, the latitude in hiring four EMS personnel. Mayor Delores Dalke said the city of Hillsboro will do whatever is necessary in order to ensure EMS coverage.
• heard from Mark Isley, president of HUB International, who said he would have an insurance proposal in the next couple of weeks. Isley added that he would also negotiate with Blue Cross Blue Shield, the county’s current insurance carrier, in a better rate. As it stands, BCBS’s premium for next year will be $228,000 more than it was this year.