Starke County Commissioners Discuss Burn Ordinance at Recent Meeting

Starke County Commissioners ( L to R ) Kathy Norem, Dan Bridegroom, Jennifer Davis

When is a burn ban, not a burn ban? According to the Starke County Commissioners, it’s when a local ordinance is updated that would spell out the penalties for violations. Commission President, Dan Bridegroom, said this week that when the burn ordinance was discussed it came out as meaning a “burn-ban” and that is not what the commission wanted to convey to the public.

“I think the biggest misconception right away was the word ‘ban’ was in everything they read,” said Commission President, Dan Bridegroom. “As soon as I would explain to the people that called me and talked to me and stopped me, it’s not a ban, then they were ok. They were ok almost immediately to know that they can still burn their leaves and burn their brush. I guess that part of the blame should fall back on us in that we didn’t get it out, specifically, what we were looking at.”

Commissioner Kathy Norem was more explicit when she said the news media didn’t research the matter well enough, specifically calling out The Leader and WKVI.

“When the press goes out there and writes these articles without any investigation, it just adds fuel to the fire to the public that, ‘Oh my God, yes, the sky is falling,” said Norem.

As already stated in local ordinance that addresses burning in the county, it is pointed out that leaf, brush, paper and recreational fires are acceptable. Large clearing of woods, or other more serious burning would need a permit.

At the Commission meeting last week, County Attorney, Martin Lucas, presented a draft of the new ordinance for the Commissioners review. He said it mirrors the laws that the State already has in force. A public hearing will be held January 17th at 7:00 p.m. CT to solicit comments from residents in the unincorporated parts of the County. WKVI will attempt to publish the new draft ordinance before the meeting.