Bonfire Will Burn Despite Ban

Friday morning, an injunction request was brought by County Attorney Jim Kuboviak to District Court Judge J.D. Langley, saying Saturday's student bonfire would violate the county's burn ban. Langley granted the injunction, but also declared the issue an emergency, allowing commissioner's court to meet on short notice to make provisions to the ban if they so chose.

At 5pm, Commissioner's Court convened, but with only two of the five members. The meeting was adjourned, with no action being taken.

Previously, County Judge Randy Sims had told those creating stack that the ceremonial burn would not be affected by the ban, but upon further review, he found out since the county burn ban was more strict than state law on ceremonial burns, the bonfire would be in violation.

"The breakdown lies, probably, with me, if you want to know the truth about it, and I take responsibility for that," Sims said.

Immediately following the short meeting, bonfire organizers and their attorney went back to Judge Langley's office asking him to rule since the county could not. After convening in closed quarters, Langley returned to the bench.

"I don't condone what you all are planning on doing because it's a violation of the law from what I can tell," said Langley. "But I do think you have made some steps toward preventing any injuries to property or people."

The judge admonished the students for not doing their homework on the burn, but agreed to dissolve the injunction since they had taken precautions to keep people safe. If the injunction had stayed in place, anyone violating it by burning stack would have been in contempt of court. With the dissolving just hours after the injunction was enacted, anyone lighting stack will face up to a $500 fine for only the burn ban violation.

"We'll have discussions with the county attorney as to who will be cited tomorrow if they do ignite the fire," said Sheriff Chris Kirk. "Obviously, there's potentially culpable people out there, and we'll just have to determine at what level we're going to issue citations."

"For every year the bonfire happens, there's going to be another realization like that, and this is just another one of those things," said Dion McInnis with the student bonfire. "You learn something every year, and if you don't learn something, you're not doing your job."

The students say stack will burn. How much of a hole is burnt in their wallets remains to be seen.


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