By Phillip Williams
Following recent rain, Upshur County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 Friday to immediately lift its temporary general ban on outdoor burning in rural areas, but parts of the county inside some cities’ limits remained under such a prohibition as of Monday.
Some members of the court said certain officials who deal with county emergencies wanted the rural ban, which was imposed Aug. 4, terminated. Such a restriction, also imposed Aug. 4, remained in effect Monday in the cities of Gilmer, Gladewater and Big Sandy, but not Ore City and East Mountain.
Respective spokeswomen for the latter two cities said their bans were lifted because those municipalities follow the county’s lead in such orders.
As for the rural ban, County Judge Todd Tefteller joined Precinct 1 Commissioner Gene Dolle, Precinct 2 Commissioner Dustin Nicholson and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jay W. Miller in voting to end it.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Michael Ashley voted against lifting the restriction, which had been imposed due to extremely hot, dry weather that made burning hazardous.
Before Friday’s vote, Nicholson told the court that the Upshur County Emergency Services District No. 2 wanted the ban ended. Miller and Tefteller said county Emergency Management Coordinator Marc Nichols also favored terminating it.
Ashley didn’t comment during Friday’s meeting in Gilmer on why he opposed lifting the ban, but said Monday he voted against it because conditions are “still too dry” as “we’ve only had a quarter of an inch” of rain.
He also said he and Dolle have received numerous phone calls asking the order be reinstated, and that they had emailed Tefteller about the situation.
Tefteller, who as county judge has the authority to temporarily impose such a ban before commissioners vote on extending it, said during Friday’s meeting, “If it (weather conditions) gets scary looking (again), I’ll put it back down.”
The court had voted several times to extend the latest ban after Tefteller ordered it.