Environmental crimes officer resigns, re-organization discussed

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

Burnet Bulletin

After just eight months on the job, Burnet County environmental crimes deputy Chris Cowan has submitted his resignation in order to join the Granite Shoals Police Department.

The move has left Burnet County challenged with finding Cowan's successor, which also brought about a disussion at the Wednesday, May 29, commissioners court meeting about which department should oversee the position, which was created with a grant from the Capital Area Council of Governments and is the first of its kind in the state.

Cowan's salary was being paid for fully for the first year by the grant and, next year, the county will pick up 20 percent of the cost, with the remaining 80 percent coming from the grant. With a large caseload already being seen — some 40-50 felony cases have already been filed — Burnet County has applied for another grant to hire a second environmental crimes officer, but they will not know whether the grant request is approved until later this year.

Burnet County Judge James Oakley said he had concerns about where the environmental crimes officer should fall on the county's organizational chart. The position must be under the sponsorship of a commissioned and licensed peace officer and currently, Precinct 4 Constable Missy Bindseil, who helped secure the grant for Burnet County, is overseeing the position.

“I think it is possible the position should be moved to the Sheriff's Office or another office because I am thinking about where it should be in regards to our organizational chart,” Oakley said. “I have always said we need a licensed, gun-toting officer enforcing environmental laws in our county and it was originally my thought that person should probably be working under (Development Services Director) Herb (Darling). . .

Find the rest of this story in the Wednesday, June 5 issue of the Burnet Bulletin, the newspaper of record for Burnet County. To offer a comment or news tip, email lew@highlandernews.com.


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