Due to recent soaking rains, as well as the need of many residents to safely and efficiently dispose of downed trees and other plant debris after the storms, Commissioners voted unanimously to rescind a ban on outdoor burning approved at the April 26 meeting.

“The KBDI is 296 this morning and fire danger is moderate to high,” fire marshal’s investigator Jim Pharr said. “We have had some counties that have already rescinded their burn bans.”

Pharr said he would still encourage residents to call the sheriff’s dispatch line (972-937-6060) before burning, to learn if there are any particular fire dangers as well as to alert first responders in case a problem should develop.

He also noted that a link to the Forest Service website has been added to the county’s website (www.co.ellis.tx.us) for convenience.

The court also voted to award the property insurance for the county to Hibbs-Hallmark for the period of one year, beginning May 23, 2011, adding an increase in deductible to the auto liability and auto physical damage line items.

The company was also asked to review the list of covered automobiles to make a recommendation regarding removal of the physical damage coverage on older vehicles. Overall, the policy will cost about $20,000 less than last year.

In other business, commissioners:

• approved a one-time variance from the county’s Rules, Regulations and Specifications for Subdivisions and Manufactured Homes relating to the 30-foot building setback requirement in Pct. 4;

• approved an option to extend the contract agreement for emulsion asphalt for the period of eight months, running May 4, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2011;

• awarded the annual bid for lightweight road surfacing aggregate for the period of May 9, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2011, with two one-year options to extend the term;

• rejected the bid for unscreened pit run gravel due to low usage;  • approved a contract with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to provide reimbursement to the county and district attorney’s office for prosecution of cases involving fraud, waste and or abuse of funds related to the following programs: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; Food Stamps; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Medicaid; Women, Infants and Children; and Children’s Health Insurance Program;

• Approved work orders for the city of Garrett and Palmer ISD under existing interlocal agreements.