Commissioners okay fireworks sales, discuss mussels in meeting
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Residents of unincorporated Coryell County will be able to buy fireworks before Memorial Day after approval from the Commissioners’ Court at their first meeting of May on Monday morning at the Commissioners’ courtroom at 801 E. Leon St. in Gatesville.
The court approved allowing retail fireworks permit holders to sell fireworks to the public in unincorporated Coryell County in celebration of Memorial Day, which falls on Monday, May 29 this year. Precinct 1 Commissioner Kyle Matthews was approached by local permit holders and put this on the agenda. The local sellers argued that due the high temperatures and dry conditions that occur during the summer months, county burn bans tend to prohibit the use and sales of fireworks during the 4th of July time period and that Memorial Day sales should be higher as long as the burn ban remains off.
After the court approved the action, County Judge John Firth urged residents to “use safety precautions” and make sure the fireworks are used in “safe manner” in unincorporated Coryell County.
The court took no action regarding the burn ban, due to anticipated rain.
The court approved allowing Trans Aero Medevac soliciting membership from Coryell County residents for operational support from Goodall-Witcher Hospital in Bosque County.
They also approved a Customer Support Agreement between Holt Power Systems and the Sheriff’s Office for Scheduled Maintenance for emergency generator service, with a total agreement price of $3,325.
The court discussed the designation under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 of four species of freshwater mussels: false spike, Texas fatmucket, Texas fawnsfoot and Texas pimpleback.
Firth has been in contact with the Texas Comptroller’s office as well as the Austin Ecological Services Field Office regarding the listing of the mussels as Endangered, which has been discussed at previous Commissioners’ Court meetings. If the mussels were listed as Endangered, that decision could end up affecting how local ranchers’ cattle are allowed to graze due to the need to fence off creeks and streams to prevent animals from affecting the mussels and their habitat.
Firth explained that if local stakeholders could show that actions are being taken to ensure the species are not endangered and that risks to the species are being mitigated, that would help prevent them from going on the list.
One of the actions that Firth suggested were removing several of the logjams in the Leon River, which have caused flooding previously.
The logjams are a significant threat to the mussels “caused by impoundment, sedimentation, riverbank destabilization as well as impeding the flow of water in supporting their natural food habitat which is better provided by a constant flow of water,” according to Firth’s letter to the Austin Ecological Services Field Office.
“If we can be committed to removing the logjam, which we’re certainly committed to do for a number of reasons, that helps mitigate that risk,” Firth said at the meeting.
Coryell County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Harrell shared that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Agency has contracted and began removing the logjam above the Mother Neff State Park in the Leon River Monday May 8.
“I am hopeful that this is a positive sign that shows the federal government that local stakeholders, in this case state and local government, are working closely together to remove what is a threat to the species’ habitat and therefore not put these mussels on the Endangered Species list,” Firth said.
The Commissioners’ Court also approved conducting a special joint meeting with the Copperas Cove City Council and the Copperas Cove Economic Development, on May 11, to take action on transferring the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation building property, located at 210 S. 1st St, to Coryell County in exchange for the Coryell County Annex building property, located at 201 S. 2nd St, both of which are in Copperas Cove.