Fires concern Canadian County leaders

Despite rains, commissioners keep burn ban active this week

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Andrew Skidmore

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – Despite recent heavy rains, Canadian County’s burn ban remains active this week due to several fires, ample dry vegetation and continuing strong winds.

Canadian County’s current outdoor burning prohibition has been in place since March 14.

“Our burn ban is still in existence, at least for another week anyway,” Canadian County Emergency Management Director Andrew Skidmore said March 21. “We had some rain but yesterday there were fires all around us.”

Commissioners talked about ongoing extreme fire dangers at their weekly Monday morning meeting. No new action was taken.

Sunday was an especially bad day.

One firefighter was killed in Lawton working a grass fire.

“There was a house fire in Mustang, and we had one in Tuttle yesterday that almost reached I-40,” Skidmore told county commissioners.

Last weekend’s fires came soon after significant rainfall last Thursday night that left large puddles of standing water across the area.

More rain fell steadily again during much of the day Monday.

Canadian County District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader

Despite this recent precipitation, District 1 County Commissioner Marc Hader supported keeping outdoor burning restrictions in effect this week.

“I’m starting to see things ‘blooming out’ a little bit and getting a little green,” Hader said. “But the biggest concern is that we’ve had dried vegetation from over the winter months.

“And with the wind blowing, even if we get rain, it’s evaporating off the surface.”

When Bermuda grass starts to grow as temperatures rise, the situation will change.

District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart referred to a weather forecast that shows no more rain expected over the next 7-10 days.

County commissioners agreed to follow Skidmore’s recommendation to keep the burn ban in place for another week.

“With the windy conditions, I agree we ought to leave it alone,” Stewart said.

Commissioners will revisit the issue at their next regular meeting March 28.

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CONSTRUCTION LOAN PAYOFF

Canadian County Commissioners this week formally approved a request to pay off early a use tax revenue note that helped fund the Canadian County Expo & Event Center construction project.

The $3.5 million loan was secured in 2019 through BancFirst at a 3.85% interest rate.

Instead of refinancing at a lower rate, commissioners recently decided to retire the remaining $3.4 million in debt using funds from three separate accounts.

Canadian County commissioners are being “good stewards” of taxpayer money by paying this loan off quickly thus saving substantial interest costs, according to Commissioner Hader said.

In other action at their March 21st meeting, county commissioners approved:

  • Designating the general government account to hold American Rescue Plan Act (ACT) federal stimulus funds. Canadian County has received half of its $28 million allocation.
  • A replat of Wolf Creek Meadows, a new five-acre housing addition near 234th (Moffat Road) and Sara Road in District 1.
  • An affidavit certifying completion of a REAP (Rural Economic Action Plan) chip seal asphalt project on 164th Street one mile east from Calumet Road.
  • Awarding a bid to Ergon Asphalt and Emulsion to provide District 3 with scrub seal oil material for $3.50 per gallon.
  • Naming streets in a new housing addition near Calumet for 9-1-1 addressing purposes – Blazing Star Lane, Buffalo Crossing, Cardinal Lane, Prairie Lane, and Tumbleweed Lane.
  • Amending a $312,463 contract with Cornerstone Detention Products to upgrade detention door locks at the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center. The change increases the cost by $17,006 because more demolition and installation was needed.
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