Watchdog: Who moved city limits sign?
Sept. 15, 2009 at 4:15 a.m.
Updated Sept. 16, 2009 at 4:16 a.m.
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Why was the city limits sign moved on Burroughsville Road, and do we really need a county fire marshal?
I answer these questions, submitted by concerned readers.
Sign of the times
Carolyn Schoener of Victoria asks why workers moved the city limits sign on Burroughsville Road.
Loop 463 turns into Burroughsville Road as the loop crosses U.S. Business 59 in east Victoria.
"There were Texas Department of Transportation trucks there in mid-August," Schoener said.
I called the transportation department, but representatives said state workers do not move city signs. I called Jared Mayfield, the city's planning manager.
"I don't know why the sign would be moved," Mayfield said. "The city annexed most of that area, at least 527 acres, in 2003. We haven't done any recent annexation or plan to do any annexation out there."
After hitting two dead-ends, I visited with Jimmy Roach, Victoria's deputy director of public works. He didn't know about the signs, either.
What I thought would be a quick answer to a straightforward question turned into a week-long head scratcher. A few days after I talked to Roach, he called me. He learned city street repair workers took it upon themselves to right a wrong.
"Our guys found the sign 100 feet from where it should be posted," Roach said. "Someone must have tore it up and dragged it to the wrong location. We just put it back where it should be."
Why a fire marshal?
A viewer of our daily morning news budget meeting, broadcast live at 10 a.m. on VictoriaAdvocate.com, asked: Why do we need a county fire marshal, and what does he earn?
Fire Marshal Ron Pray earns $62,005 per year. Whether the county needs a fire marshal remains subjective.
The fire marshal's job once fell to Vance Riley, Victoria's fire chief. In 1997, county commissioners created the fire marshal's office.
Coordinate efforts between the 11 volunteer fire departments, and are a liaison between volunteers and county government.
Seek and apply for grants and create training opportunities.
Inspect county schools, nursing homes and other public places to ensure buildings meet fire codes.
This year, volunteer firefighters responded to 1,066 calls ranging from car wrecks to house fires.
Pray, the county's fire marshal of eight months, often assists during calls. He is a paramedic, a master firefighter and master peace officer.
"This isn't an easy job," Pray said, "but I love it."
You might have read in Tuesday's Victoria Advocate that certain portions of Goliad County may go without fire service. Goliad city council will vote whether county funding is adequate to cover the costs of responding to calls outside city limits.
Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi said costs to this county would be far greater if the city absorbed work done now by the fire marshal's office.
Before hiring Pray, the county considered other options. The 11 volunteer fire chiefs, though, unanimously asked the county to keep the fire marshal's office open, Pozzi said.
Dave Garza is the two-year Telferner Volunteer Fire Department chief.
"The fire marshal enforces the burn ban and helps us during the day when we're at work," Garza said. "Since we've had a fire marshal's office, we've seen more members and more funding for better equipment. Having a fire marshal is the best thing we, the volunteers, can have."