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Volunteer fire departments could get help from county

By Sonny Long
Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:12 a.m.


BOCHAT NEW EXTENSION AGENT

Erika Bochat, the manager of Goliad's Main Street Program, is returning to her passion - the extension service.

Bochat was introduced Monday to members of the Victoria County Commissioners Court as the county's new family and consumer sciences extension agent.

Bochat has extensive experience in county extension including time in five counties before "semi-retiring," she said.

Bochat, 45, will begin work on Jan. 3. Two other agent positions are open in the county extension office - agriculture/natural resources and 4-H and youth development. Former Victoria County extension agents Sam Womble moved from the Victoria office to Bandera County and Sarah Womble is now in the Uvalde extension office. Extension agent Joe Janak is retiring in February.

Victoria County volunteer fire departments might get an early Christmas present.

County commissioners are considering dividing $10,000 in its budget among the county's 10 rural fire departments. The money is the remaining portion of a $40,000 2010-2011 budget item for assisting the county's volunteer fire departments.

Commissioner Gary Burns made the proposal that will likely be voted on at the Dec. 19 court meeting. Burns said the funds could help defray fuel costs for the departments.

County Judge Don Pozzi asked commissioners to wait a week before voting to give him time to get more information.

"I'm not trying to keep money away from the volunteers," Pozzi said. "I love the volunteers and the work they do. I want to be assured that this is the best way to help them."

Burns' proposal included dividing the funds up according to the percentage of fire calls made by each department.

Quail Creek Volunteer Fire Department made the most runs, 20 percent of the more than 300 made by all departments, and the department's Chief Ron Kramer and president Mike Blaschek attended Monday's commissioners court meeting.

Kramer told commissioners that about 25 percent of the Quail Creek's department calls in 2011 were outside of their district because of large grass fires.

The department spends about $600 a month on fuel, Blaschek added.

"We pride ourselves in being able to assist other areas, and they assist us, too," Kramer said. "We're not in debt. We're self-sustaining at the moment."

The Quail Creek department is in the process of purchasing an $80,000 brush truck. It received a $50,000 anonymous grant toward that purchase and has raised about half of the remainder needed.

Pozzi said he would like the chance to talk with county fire marshal Ron Pray, who was not in attendance at the meeting, and the other departments before voting on the proposal.

Burns' provided a report from Pray that through Nov. 30, county fire departments had responded to 319 calls, up from 129 in 2010.

The county's rural volunteer fire departments and their percentage of fire calls in 2011 include: Quail Creek 20 percent, Raisin 13 percent, Nursery 12 percent, Inez 11 percent, Mission Valley 10 percent, Lone Tree 9 percent, Bloomington 8 percent, DaCosta 8 percent, Placedo 6 percent and Fordtran 3 percent.

Also Monday, commissioners:

Named Burns county judge pro-tem for 2012.

Approved an order prohibiting aerial fireworks in the unincorporated areas of Victoria County.

Approved early voting days and times in February and March, including an additional early voting location at the county health center.

Received a memorandum of understanding to participate in Victoria Partners in Preparedness.

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