Comanche County, Oklahoma

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Commissioners order burn ban

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Comanche County is under a burn ban for the next month.   

The Comanche County commissioners approved a burn ban Tuesday morning during their regular weekly meeting, held on Tuesday because the Comanche County Courthouse was closed Monday in observance of Labor Day.   

The burn ban was effective immediately and will end Oct. 2 if the commissioners do not vote to extend it. As of Tuesday afternoon, Comanche County’s was the only burn ban in effect in Oklahoma, according to Oklahoma Forestry Services.   

Gail Turner, chairman of the commissioners, said Comanche County Emergency Management Director Chloe Lewis polled the chiefs of the county’s volunteer fire departments and determined they were in favor of a burn ban following recent wildfires in Comanche and Stephens counties.    

Violation of the burn ban is punishable by up to a year in the county jail or a fine of up to $500, or both.   

The commissioners also voted to set a public hearing, as required by Oklahoma law, on the request by Valley View Volunteer Fire Department to convert from being a corporate fire department to a county fire department. A volunteer fire department must first be a corporate department before it can become a county fire department.   

The hearing will be at 9 a.m. Sept. 29, during the regular weekly commissioners’ meeting at the courthouse.   

Valley View fire chief Lynn Newton said the purpose of the change is to allow Valley View firefighters to take part in the state pension system for volunteer firefighters. The change might also lower the area covered by the department’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, which could lead to lower insurance premiums for property owners, Newton said.   

The change will not affect how much county money the department receives, Turner said.   

In other business, the commissioners opened a bid for replacing the alarm system in the courthouse from Wiring Solutions for $286,847.18, which was tabled for further consideration. No other bids were received.

 

Officials meet on county disaster plan

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 Local leaders are making plans to deal with disasters big and small.   

Stan Rice, environmental services director for the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG) met with leaders from cities and school districts across Comanche County and the Comanche County commissioners Monday afternoon at the Comanche County Courthouse to discuss drafting the latest version of the county’s fiveyear hazard mitigation plan for the federal government.   

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires a plan to be submitted by every entity within every county in order for it to receive FEMA aid if a disaster is declared.   

Rice said that when the Moore tornadoes hit in 2013, Moore missed out on some FEMA aid because it was not part of a current hazard mitigation plan. The current plan on file for Comanche County expired in 2013.   

Rice is drafting a new fiveyear plan to cover all sorts of possible disasters, including storms, drought, earthquakes, dam failures and many more. He needs input from every city and school in the county, so he met with representatives Monday to give them an overview of how the hazard mitigation plan works.   

Rice has asked all area leaders to submit their portions of the plan, which will essentially be “wish lists” of what each entity would like to do in order to lessen the effects of disasters, such as adding safe rooms to guard against tornadoes. The input from area leaders must be received by ASCOG before the end of November, he said.   

Rice said putting a possible project on the list does not obligate the town or school to undertake that project. In addition, if a project is listed on the current plan and funding is obtained for it, FEMA may fund 75 percent of the listed project.   

Several towns and schools in Oklahoma have been able to build safe rooms or other weather shelters with help from FEMA because the projects were listed on hazard mitigation plans, he said.   

The hazard mitigation plan will be effective for five years from the date it is accepted by FEMA.

   

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