Breckenridge Texan

City Commissioners vote to rent goats for creek clean up

City Commissioners vote to rent goats for creek clean up
July 12
08:58 2021

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

One topic at the Breckenridge City Commission’s regular meeting last week had those in attendance smiling and even chuckling out loud: goats.

Terry Carr of Rising Star addressed the commissioners, explaining how the Rent-a-Ruminant business owned by his son and daughter-in-law will bring in a herd of about 150 goats to clear brush along the banks of the drainage creek, known as Walker Branch, from North Oakwood Street to U.S. Highway 183 North. The specific area along the creek that will be cleared is 5.884 acres.

Terry Carr with Rent-a-Ruminant explains how the company will use goats to clear brush from the Walker Branch drainage creek in Breckenridge. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Carr explained that the company will set up electrified fencing, bring in the goats to graze the area and provide a person who will stay on-site 24-hours a day throughout the process to oversee the goats. Additionally, Rent-a-Ruminant provides liability insurance in case any of the goats get out, although Carr said that has never happened in the six years they’ve had the business.

Heather Robertson-Caraway, interim city manager, said the City has been getting complaints about the overgrown brush along the creek and that the City is short-handed and doesn’t have the manpower to clear the brush.

“Ordinarily, we have, in the past, used the clients from TDCJ (the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Walker Sayle prison unit) where it’s kind of free of charge to us. I mean, we contract with the warden there,” she said. “But in the last year and a half to two years, because of different issues and then COVID-19, we have not been able to contract with them and so it has grown up.”

Carr said the goats will eat just about every type of plant, except wood. “Most cities want us to graze it right down the ground because they want to get rid of poison ivy, poison oak, which our goats love,” he said.

He explained that they will set up the fencing in sections, having the goats clear about 1/4 to 1/3 of an acre at a time. “When they graze it down, we’ve already got another site set for them. We open the gate, and when I say, ‘Goatie, goatie,’ they come running. They’ll be 100 yards away, but they know they’re going somewhere to eat.”

One question that often comes up when a city is contracting with the company is whether or not it is taking away jobs from workers. However, he said, most cities say that it’s cheaper to rent the goats and that their employees have other things to do, such as filling in potholes.

Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney said that a couple of years ago, then-City Manager Andy McCuistion took bids on having the brush cleared with mowers and the cost was about $25,000.

“I love this,” Commissioner Vince Moore said. “I’ve always been a fan of this.”

After some discussion, the commissioners approved a contract with Rent-a-Ruminant for $17,652. Carr said the goats can be brought in by August or September and the project should take about three weeks.

Water Board Honors

At the beginning of the meeting, Breckenridge Mayor Bob Sims presented gifts of appreciation to two local men for their service on the West Central Texas Municipal Water District Board of Directors. Paul Prater and Stan Carstens served on the board for many years, Sims said.

“We thank you for all of your years of service,” Sims said. “What we’ve got with that lake (Hubbard Creek Reservoir), we wouldn’t have without (Paul and Stan). They have put so much work and time into it.”

Prater was on-hand to accept the custom-made knife and sheath, and Jonathan Newton accepted the gift for Carstens.

“I’ve enjoyed all my time representing the City of Breckenridge on the Water District Board, and it seems a very short time ago, April of 2016, that Lake Daniels was empty and we were 15 and a half feet down out at Hubbard Creek Reservoir, and we were scrambling for water,” Prater said. “With that in mind, I want you guys to always keep on your agenda the need for water.”

Breckenridge Mayor Bob Sims, center, presented gifts of appreciation to Paul Prater, left, and Jonathan Newton, on behalf of Stan Carstens, for Prater and Carstens’ service on the West Central Texas Municipal Water District Board of Directors. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

City Reports

During the meeting, Public Services Director Stacy Harrison reported that the City lowered the cost of entry to the swimming pool for adults attending the early morning water aerobics classes. The charge is now $1.50 per person, rather than the full session price of $3. He said class attendance has more than doubled since the price was lowered.

Additionally, Harrison reported that the plaque has been installed at the newly renamed Booker T. Washington Park. The City will be taking bids on lights for the park.

Other reports included information about the ongoing search for a new city manager, the recent removal of bricks around the Welcome to Breckenridge signs, new building permits, upcoming budget workshops, city employee insurance options, and a complaint about flooding on U.S. Highway 183 South.

Other business

In other City business at the meeting, commissioners listened to reports from Will Thompson about the Stephens County Appraisal District and Sage Diller about the Texas Department of Transportation’s water and sewer line replacement project on U.S. Highway 183 North. The commissioners approved two change orders to the water and sewer line project.


Cutline, top photo: Will Thompson with the Stephens County Appraisal District talks to the Breckenridge City Commission about recent changes in the appraisal district. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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