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Burn ban allowed to lapse
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After three months, it’s off, at least for now.
Thanks to weekend rains and higher humidity, the Barton County Commission Monday morning allowed the most resent county-wide burn ban to expire as of noon Monday. The action came at the request of the Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller and fire chiefs from around the county.
Hoisington Fire Chief Jim Sekavek said he’s had several requests to burn recently. “I think it’s time we give them a chance.”
Should the weather turn around and dry back up, he said the commission could re-instate the ban when it meets next Tuesday morning. Barton County has had a ban in place since May 29 and only skipping the week of June 18.
Miller said individuals may burn with approval from the fire chief having jurisdiction of the area where the burning is to take place. If an individual has a current burn permit, they should contact 911 Communications at 620-793-1920  to provide notification of the burn location. The dispatcher will advise if conditions are appropriate for burning and if there are any additional burn restrictions in place.
The lapse of the burn ban sparked questions from commissioners about the on-going postponement of Fourth of July fireworks. At their July 2 meeting, they voted to prohibit the discharge of fireworks in unincorporated areas of the county until further notice.
County Administrator Richard Boeckman said he visited with the fire chiefs present at Monday’s meeting about the issue. “They have a date in mind” for the use of the pyrotechnics, but that date was not revealed.
Should the weather continue to cooperate, Boeckman said the chiefs will come back to the commission in a couple weeks. Any date has to be coordinated with the city councils in communities that have local bans in place.
Drought conditions continue to plague the state of Kansas.  Barton County is still listed as being in exceptional drought in the U.S. Drought Monitor.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved a resolution congratulating county department heads, supervisors and employees for their safe work records. Boeckman said he recently learned from the National Council on Compensation Insurance that the county’s Experience Modification Rate (MOD) has been reduced significantly, meaning the workers’ compensation insurance rate has decreased. “It’s always nice to hear good news.”
The MOD Rate for Barton County is .78 and Boeckman said the NCCI considers anything under one as good. “This is a really favorable rate.”
The reduction is a result of various county programs that include pre-employment physical assessments, employee training and supervisor recognition of the importance of safety measures. “Our department heads are very safety conscious,” Boeckman said.
Among the departments that have a higher likelihood of work-related injuries are Road and Bridge, Solid Waste  (landfill), Sheriff’s Office and Health.
• Heard an update on communicable diseases from Barton County Health Nurse Karen Winkelman and Health Department Director Lily Akings.