James Oakley


Burnet County burn ban lifted




From staff reports

The Burnet County burn ban has been lifted as of Thursday, Sept. 6, Burnet County Judge James Oakley said.

Soaking rains fell throughout Burnet County this week, with some areas reporting up to three inches of precipitation within a 24-hour period ending at 6 a.m. Thursday. The rain caused the county's Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) average to drop 32 points from 523 to 491, with a high of 703 (just north of Burnet) and a low of 320 (near Marble Falls).

The KBDI is used to determine forest fire potential. The drought index is based on daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture (assumed to have a maximum storage capacity of eight inches) and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion.


Burnet County mourns loss of Constable Jimmy Ballard

Precinct 3 Constable Jimmy Ballard




By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

Burnet Bulletin

Burnet County Precinct 3 Constable Jimmy Ballard died early Monday, July 2, after losing a two-year fight with cancer and being removed from life support late Sunday. He was 57.

Funeral arrangements were pending Monday morning with Clements-Wilcox Funeral Home in Marble Falls.


Residents ask TxDOT for TX 29 center lane

Local resident Tara Luke speaks to TxDOT Austin District Engineer Terry McCoy about the possibility of reducing the speed limit on Texas 29 during a Burnet County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday.


By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

Burnet Bulletin

A full courtroom of Burnet County residents appeared before the Commissioners Court Tuesday morning, asking what can be done to add a continuous left-turn lane and other safety improvements to Texas 29 between Burnet and Bertram after a number of fatal accidents on the highway.

They had their questions answered by Texas Department of Transportation Austin District Engineer Terry McCoy, a Burnet County native whose district oversees state highways in 11 counties, including Burnet County.

Burnet County Judge James Oakley, who sits on the board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) — which oversees how federal highway funds are prioritized in a six-county region, including Burnet County — said the safety issues being identified by Burnet County and CAMPO are not just limited to Texas 29.


Burnet County adopts tax rate

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

Burnet Bulletin

Burnet County commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the same tax rate the county had last year — 0.3969, or 39.69 cents per $100 valuation — at Tuesday's regular court meeting at the Burnet County Courthouse.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to adopt a $37,634,576 budget for fiscal year 2018. The budget includes a last-minute increase of $1,400 for Veterans Service Officer Bill Worley after commissioners voted unanimously to increase his contractual pay from $13,000 to $14,400.

The 2018 tax rate includes a tax rate of .3149 or 31.49 cents for general fund expenditures; a tax rate of .0402 or 4.02 cents per $100 valuation for debt service and a tax rate of .0418 or 4.18 cents per $100 valuation for road and bridge expenditures.


Tensions run high as PEC investigates merit of complaint filed against Oakley

By Frank Shubert

Bulletin Publisher

At a meeting held Wednesday by the Complaint Committee established by the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) on November 30, tensions ran high and continued Thursday regarding a complaint filed against board member James Oakley. The executive session  that followed PEC member comments was ended when Complaint Committee member and director Kathryn Scanlon left the proceedings. They continued on Thursday.

The Complaint Committee, which included Scanlon, board president Emily Pataki and director Paul Graf, was joined by general council Don Ballard and special council Don Richards. The committee was charged with investigating a complaint filed by PEC board member Cristi Clement against Oakley.


PEC Board votes 6-0 to investigate Oakley complaint, consider possible removal

James Oakley

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors voted 6-0 Wednesday, Nov. 30, to give written notice to director James Oakley that the board will consider his possible removal on Jan. 17 if a complaint filed against Oakley is found to merit such discipline.

In a resolution approved at a special called meeting, the board voted to establish a committee to investigate the complaint against Oakley and determine what punishment, if any, he may face for a social media post made earlier in the month in which Oakley commented it was “time for a tree and a rope” for the suspected killer of a San Antonio police officer.

Board President Emily Pataki indicated the committee, which will be comprised of directors Kathy Scanlon, Paul Graf and herself, can consider all avenues open to them through the cooperative's bylaws, including removing Oakley from the position he has held since 2013.


Oakley Facebook comment draws fire

Facebook is a wonderful tool for people to use, but like any tool, it should be used with great care.

The social media site is useful for helping people keep in contact with friends scattered across the globe whom they haven’t spoken to for years. It allows family to reconnect and allows the sharing of photos, ideas and news with others within one’s peer group.

However, it also instantly shows, without context, intent or clarity, the thoughts and ideas a person clacks out on their smartphone or computer keyboard and exposes those posts to instant scrutiny.

Such is the case involving Burnet County Judge James Oakley, who learned a very hard lesson this past week about the lack of anonymity Facebook affords.

On Monday, Nov. 21, Oakley shared a post from the San Antonio Police Department about the arrest of an African-American man, Otis Tyrone McKane, accused of killing San Antonio police Det. Benjamin Marconi on his personal Facebook account.


County lowers 2017 tax rate by 1.4 percent



Burnet County Commissioners Court officially decreased the ad valorem tax rate for the second fiscal year in a row.

Commissioners Court met on Tuesday, Aug. 23 and approved an effective tax rate for the 2017 fiscal year that is a 1.4 percent reduction compared to last year's rate.

Burnet County Judge James Oakley said the new rate, which is .3969 per $100 valuation, will amount to a $369.90 tax per year for a property valued at $100,000. For those residents whose property values didn't rise this year, the new tax will represent a 1.4 percent reduction in their county taxes.

The lower effective rate is the “culmination of rising property values in the county,” Oakley said. “It would have been a lot lower this year, but we had a lot more seniors qualify for the tax freeze.”


Wallace Riddell returns home



The legendary Burnet Sheriff Wallace Riddell statue was moved it its new home during the morning hours on Saturday, July 16.

Burnet Commissioners approved the move in May for the statue to be relocated from the north side of the Courthouse lawn to the Burnet Historic Square lawn.

 “We felt it was more appropriate that it be in from of the historic jail, which is where he lived and officed,” said Burnet County Judge James Oakley, in a previous interview.

Oakley and Riddell’s descendants witnessed as Diamond E Rigging out of Austin, removed the statue from its concrete base on the Courthouse yard early Saturday morning and strapped it to heavy machinery before picking it up and moving the granite monument along with the statue to the Historic Jail.

Inching its way the statue was lead by the Riddell family from Pierce Street down the historic square and placed on the lawn of the Burnet Historic Jail.


County approves addition to jail workforce, issues debt for maintenance projects



Commissioners voted to unfreeze eight Burnet County Jail staff positions and to issue debt for county road maintenance projects during commissioners' court on Tuesday, June 14.

“We're seeing an increase in call volume lately,” said Burnet County Chief Deputy Joe Canady. “Part of that is because it's summer and we get an influx of people who don't live here full time… We've also seen increases of local arrests.”

Canady also added the jail is seeing an increase in demand for inmate housing from other counties.

“We now take all of Hamilton County's inmates. They have not temporary holding facility,” he said.

Canady told commissioners that the jail houses between 220 and 240 inmates on a regular basis, and the jail is only allowed to house 240 inmates based on staff size. These limits were set by Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

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