County commissioners discussed the burn ban Monday night, deciding to leave it in place.
Although the county’s rating on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index was 443 as of Friday, that number is below the 500-575 benchmark the county typically holds to when establishing a burn ban.
The current burn ban was put into place about a month ago based upon several other factors, including high winds and dry conditions, with tall winter grasses provide an ignitable fire load., fire marshall’s investigator Jim Pharr said.
The burn ban is due to expire the latter part of April.
Rules for outdoor burning can be located online at http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/files/rg-049.pdf_4127821.pdf.
The majority of Texas counties (196 out of 254) are under a burn ban at this time.
In other business, the commissioners heard a report from director of human resources Diana Buckley relating to the Texas Association of Counties’ Healthy County Program.
The program allows county employees access to online resources relating to health and wellness. The presentation noted that one in four Texans is obese while seven in 10 don’t exercise regularly. The number of diabetes cases has increased by more than 90 percent in the last decade, with at least 50 percent of medical expenditures potentially preventable, according to the report.
Healthy County will offer employees the opportunity to take a health risk assessment, set up a personal health manager, participate in a fitness challenge, access a 24-hour nurseline, enroll in tobacco cessation and or weight management programs and access management services for conditions such as diabetes and also maternity.
Employees will be offered financial incentives such as $25 to complete the health risk assessment and another $25 to complete the fitness challenge. They also can earn up to $200 in gift certificates relating to their participation with Healthy County.
All information will be confidential, with the county receiving general, summarizing reports indicating only the number of employees who are participating, with no individual information divulged.
“As you can see, it’s an exciting program,” Buckley told commissioners. “All of the employees who have been to the presentation are very excited about participating.”
For every incentive received by an employee, the county will receive the same amount as a match for use in its health and wellness programs, Buckley said.
The goal is to help employees become healthier and promote safety, she said of the program, which in turn will help lower the county’s health insurance and worker’s compensation expenses.