City Council Considers Reinstating Burn Ban


Published on September 15 2020 7:20 pm
Last Updated on September 15 2020 9:49 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Burn Ban 2020

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Friday, Saturday, and Monday are the only days of the week where burning of yard waste is permitted in the city of Effingham.

A lot of people think that's three days a week too many.

The Effingham City Council Tuesday discussed reinstating a burn ban that was put into effect early in the COVID-19 pandemic. The City later returned to the three days a week practice that was implemented during Jeff Bloemker's term as mayor.

Sherry Stremming spoke to the Council Tuesday as a person who, with her husband, contracted COVID-19 and have now recovered. Stremming said a neighbor burning outdoors is problematic and asked the Council to consider a ban on outdoor burning.

The issue has been visited by the Council almost every year...if not every year...for decades. Each of the current Council members had something to say on the matter. 

Mayor Mike Schutzbach said he would ask for the question of a ban to be placed on the agenda for the next Council meeting, which will take place on October 6, both for discussion and a possible vote on a ban. In the meantime, he asked Fire Chief Bob Tutko and Police Chief Jason McFarland to "religiously" enforce the existing restrictions on burning. There was also some discussion on purchasing a leaf vac truck, but the cost of the truck and the personnel to operate are considerations.

Commissioner Libby Moeller said there are more COVID cases each day to accompany other hindrances to breathing and recommended reinstating the burning ban.

Commissioner Merv Gillenwater his consideration is accommodating those physically unable to get leaves to the curb so a leaf vac truck could pick them up, or who can't afford the cost of bags if a collection program was established. Gillenwater made it clear, though, that all things being equal, he favors a burning ban.

Commissioner Larry Micenheimer wondered whether a citywide referendum should be put on the ballot on the matter? Micenheimer said in a progressive community like Effingham, there should be a way to address the issue.

Commissioner Hank Stephens wants Effingham to look at what other communities are doing to address the issue and take a cue from that. 

A reminder that on the days that burning is allowed in Effingham, that burning can only involve yard waste, can only occur during daylight hours, and must be out by dark including smoldering items. If not, the fire department will come and put out the fire.