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Section A: General News


County amends snake ban, approves mass-gathering permits


County amends snake ban, approves mass-gathering permits
Andrew Wyatt


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Wilson County News
March 27, 2013
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Wilson County has reached a compromise with area herpetology enthusiasts, as the Wilson County Commissioners Court at its March 25 meeting voted unanimously to amend recent action to restrict the ownership of non-indigenous venomous snakes.

In November 2012, the commissioners amended Ordinance 1998-1 -- which relates to dangerous wild animals -- to include “controlled exotic snakes,” which are venomous snakes not indigenous to Texas, and other exotic snakes such as pythons and anacondas. Outcry over the ban from herpetology experts and snake breeders prompted the commissioners to suggest a meeting between the opposition and veterinarian George Hill, who helped the county author the ban, to see if a compromise could be reached.

Jason Royer of Royer’s Reptiles proposed an amendment Feb. 25, which would allow ownership of these snakes if certain requirements are met (See “Possible compromise for snakes ban?” Feb. 27). The county added to this amendment that in order to keep such snakes, one must obtain the necessary state permit, for which documentation must be furnished to the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office. Royer was represented in commissioners court March 25 by Andrew Wyatt, president of the U.S. Herp Alliance.

Also related to permits, the commissioners voted to approve the framework for a mass-gathering permit, which will carry a fee of $300. County Attorney Daynah Fallwell said that per Section 751 of the state’s Health and Safety Code, the county can require permits for certain large gatherings. Fallwell said that if more than 2,500 people gather for an event outside the limits of an incorporated city, a permit will be required. If alcohol is to be served at an event of 500 people or more, or if at least 51 percent of those in attendance will be younger than 18, a permit also will be required.

Organizers must apply for permits in the county judge’s office no less than 45 days before an event. This, Fallwell said, allows the sheriff’s office, fire marshal, and health and safety officials to inspect the venue. Failure to obtain a permit could result in up to 90 days jail time, she said.

Also during the meeting, the commissioners:

•Took no action related to a possible reinstatement of a ban on outdoor burning. because an agenda item related to the subject was worded incorrectly. Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney reminded residents that while there is no burn ban, they still are urged to exercise caution when it comes to burning, as they can be held liable for damage that their fires might cause.

•Approved redemption of

bonds used to finance construction of the Wilson County Criminal Justice Center on U.S. 181. Quinney read in the resolution that of the $2,565,000 borrowed, there is just $500,000 outstanding. The bond, which was set to mature in January 2014, will be paid off in April.

•Met with Lyndsay Thorn of ThornGraves Architects to discuss plans to renovate the Wilson County Courthouse.

In attendance: Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney and commissioners Albert Gamez Jr., Paul Pfeil, Ricky Morales, and Larry Wiley; County Treasurer Jan Hartl, Emergency Management Coordinator LeAnn Hosek, County Clerk Eva Martinez, Wilson County Health and Public Safety Office Coordinator Edwin Baker, County Attorney Daynah Fallwell, County Auditor Verna Gorzell, and Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr.

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