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Orange Fire Marshal John Bilbo said an apartment fire early this morning started in a bedroom; however the cause has not been determined. Four families have been displaced from the apartment complex at 3333 Ridgemont Drive. No injuries were reported. The Orange Fire Department was called at 12:30 a.m. Bilbo said several fires have occurred at the complex in the past few years. Recent fires have included one in January and one in October. The complex was built in the mid-1960s and does not have attic fire barriers or other building requirements that are in modern codes, Bilbo said.

The county gets the bulk of its auto and property insurance coverage from the Texas Association of Counties (TAC), as do 90 percent of the 254 counties in Texas. Monday County Judge Brint Carlton wanted to seek other proposals for insuring the county’s vehicles, buildings, and some other liabilities currently not covered. Carlton said he had no problem with TAC which has served Orange County for 40 years, but that he thought it was time to take a look at what was available from commercial insurance companies. Opposition arose from Commissioner John Banken because of all the added services TAC provides. He emphasized he did not oppose seeing what other rates are out there, but did not want to start any kind of a bid process. Banken said even if there were lower prices available he wanted to stay with TAC because it has so much more to offer the county. It was agreed to go out for the proposals would mean additional work to get the specifications ready and the reviewing of the proposals once they were received. Assets to be covered would also have to be revised. Commissioner Jody Crump cast the deciding vote. Crump stated that it was pointed out at least $2,000,000 of assets currently covered are not owned by the county anymore, and with the tight time constraints involved in getting the proposals he was voting no. The motion failed with Commissioner David Dubose joining Banken and Crump in casting votes against seeking proposals. The county will submit its application for insurance to TAC on Wednesday, April 1. The actual renewal date is July 1. Advertising for bids to cover the food service contract for inmates at the Orange County Jail was approved by the Commissioners Court Monday afternoon. A five-person committee which includes Commissioner David Dubose and Sheriff Keith Merritt will review and score the proposals for the food service. Purchasing Agent Connie Cassidy requested a delay in advertising for bids in regards to the inmate telephone service. The commissioners authorized Lisa Reeves with the county automation office to purchase 13 capital outlay computer related items including a new printer that prints the checks for the county employees. As an addendum the Commissioners Court approved applying available tax credits from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to the Orange County Economic Development Corporation which can be used in the printing of their magazine.

Orange police believe a robbery suspect arrested after a high-speed chase early Saturday morning may be connected to eight crimes in Orange alone. Those include the armed hold-up of Cypress Plaza convenience store on Friday night, a burglary at Lookin' Good Salon in Northway Shopping Center on Thursday night, plus the burglary of a shed on Golden Oak Drive on March 22 and the burglary of Frey's nursery on Interstate 10 March 16. Beaumont police arrested 32-year-old Ronald Wayne Rice II early Saturday morning after a chase from Orange that went up to 120 mph on Interstate 10. In addition, Rice is suspected of robbing the Subway sandwich shop near Lamar University Friday night before the Orange robbery. KPLC in Lake Charles said he is also a suspect in the armed robbery of a Market Basket in DeQuincy last week. more

Three armed robberies of convenience stores in Orange were reported during the weekend and police do not think the same people were committing the crimes. One suspect was arrested in Beaumont early Saturday morning after a high-speed chase. Ronald Wayne Rice II is being charged in connection with the robbery at 10:30 p.m. Friday at the Cypress Plaza store on North Highway 87. The Diamond Shamrock store, 3900 N. 16th Street, was robbed by a gunman at 9:43 p.m. Saturday. The robber is described by Lt. Eric Ellison as a young black male with a light complexion. He was wearing a gray hoodie sweatshirt and appeared to have a shirt wrapped around his face. The clerk told police the robber ran away and was running west on Robin Street in the Greenway Park neighborhood across 16th Street. The Shell station store at 3118 Edgar Brown Drive reported a robbery at 1:19 a.m. Monday. The clerk reported two black men came into the store and one pointed a gun at him. After getting cash, the two ran away.

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The City of Vidor offices will be closed Friday, April 3, 2015 in observance of Good Friday. The Sanitation Department will run its normal Friday route. Anyone desiring to make a payment to either the Sanitation Department or the Municipal Court may use the appropriate drop box located in the rear parking lot of City Hall Municipal Building.

The Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School UIL One Act Play, "Epic Proportions," claimed the District 24-4A Championship this past weekend at Lamar-Port Arthur. The five-member tech crew team of Amanda Warner, Clint Jordan, Canyon Cassidy, Shawn Blair and Dalan Jones was awarded the top technical crew at the contest. Additionally, senior Alex Borel was named to the All-Star Cast, and seniors Rebecca Sanford and Triston Stringer took the top acting awards, Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively. The group advances to the Bi-District round of competition at Lone Star College - Kingwood this Thursday. They are under the direction of Cory Broom and Caroline Hennigan.

The Texas Legislature was considering a bill that would change how people apply for a marriage license. County Judge Brint Carlton reported that this past weekend he found out more about the bill. Judge Carlton said the bill did not pass so its potential consequences are a mute point now. He clarified that couples would have applied for their marriage licenses through the County Clerk’s office, but the license would have been issued by the Secretary of State in Austin. With the bill’s failure in the legislature there will be no change in the normal practice for couples to receive their license to get married by going to the County Clerk. There was also a concern that the county could lose revenues if issuing of the marriage licenses was taken from the County Clerk’s office. Brandy Robertson reported her office received over $37,000 for marriage licenses in 2014.

Lou Ann and Monte McKinley enjoy the peace and the serene views of the Sabine River. They built a home along the river but the season of flooding has arrived. The two are employed at OCARC and these days they are spending their nights there, too. "I'm too old to get into a boat every morning," Lou Ann said jokingly. For river residents, spring is often the time they have to park their cars on the dry end of a flooded road and then ride a boat to their homes.
The McKinleys live off West Bluff Road in northeast Orange County. She said their house is on poles ten feet above ground. The river overflow hasn't gone high enough to get inside the house and isn't forecasted to. On Friday morning, the National Weather Service reported the river at Deweyville, a bit upstream from the McKinleys, was at 25.7 feet and is expected to crest at 26.1 feet. Flood level is 24 feet.
The Sabine River Authority is continuing to release water from Toledo Bend Reservoir and Lou Ann thinks it will be four to six weeks before the river subsides enough for them to drive cars to their house. She said when she was younger she didn't mind the boat rides every day to go into town for work. "It's part of living on the river," she said.
For the past four years or so, they haven't had to deal with the spring river rises, she said. Droughts in most of the state kept Toledo Bend well below capacity with no need to release water. This year, ample rains have fallen in the Northeast Texas area of the Sabine River Basin. In addition, Southeast Texas has had a lot of rain, including more than seven inches last Saturday.
Monte visited their house earlier in the week. Floods also drive snakes and other critters to higher places, including the houses on stilts and trees. "The snakes are really bad right now," Lou Ann said. She's glad she's away from those reptiles. "In my younger age, I was a lot braver," she said.
They'll make an occasional boat ride to the house to pick things up that the need. But otherwise, they're making a home now at OCARC. "We're blessed to have a place we can go," Lou Ann said.

Bridge City Police arrested Jerod Atkins, 30, of BC Thursday afternoon and have charged him with burglary of a habitation. Atkins was witnessed burglarizing a building and police located him at a convenience store where he confessed to the crime. The merchandise was returned to the owner and Atkins was brought to the Orange County Jail where a bond was set at $5000 according to Detective Danny Hodges.

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Doktor Kaboom! is an interactive one-man Science variety show suitable for all audiences and it’s coming to the Lutcher Theater Friday, April 10 for two performances at 9:30 and 11:30 AM. All tickets are $4 and are available by calling the Lutcher Theater Box Office at 409-886-5535. Creatively blending theatre arts with the wonders of scientific exploration, Doktor Kaboom keeps his crowds riveted with interest and rolling with laughter. Doktor Kaboom! is a sidesplitting journey of increasingly spectacular, and often successful, experiments and demonstrations. Using masterful improvisational skills, the artist takes his audience on a sidesplitting tour of the modern scientific method while demonstrating spectacular applications of the physical sciences. Doktor Kaboom! is the creation of Actor / Comedian David Epley. David has been fortunate enough to discover two passions in his life. His first, science, took him to studies at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. His second, performing, became his career, and for 20 years David has made his living writing, performing, and directing original interactive comedy across the US and Canada. He now brings his passions together with an explosive style that refuses to allow his audiences time to catch a breath. Education curriculum connections for Doktor Kaboom! are Science, Math and Theater creating a perfect field trip opportunity for school groups. However, all Lutcher Incredible Kids Events are open to the public and appropriate for all ticket buyers. Lutcher Incredible Kids Events is sponsored by Printpack Inc. and Service League of Orange. The Frances Ann Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts is located at 707 Main, Orange, Texas.

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The Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School math and science team traveled to San Antonio recently to participate in the Texas Math and Science Coaches Association’s (TMSCA) State competition. Awards were given based on school size and student grade level. Students competed with other 4-A schools from across the state, including perennial UIL state contenders in Argyle, Abilene Wylie, and Seminal as well as fellow district opponent Silsbee. TMSCA state awards the top ten places from each grade at each competition level. LCM Winners are Shri Murthy - 7th Place 12th grade Science, Clint Jordan - 10th Place 12th grade Number Sense, Devin Fenner - 7th Place 11th grade Number Sense, Thomas King - 3rd Place 10th grade Number Sense and 4th Place 10th grade General Math, Chris Cook - 7th Place 10th grade Number Sense and 5th Place 10th grade Calculator and Matthew Cox - 3rd Place 10th grade Science. Other team members include Computer Science - John Comeaux, Shri Murthy, Jonah Boaz, Jonas English and alternates Matthew Cox and Clint Jordan. General Math - Shri Murthy, Clint Jordan, Thomas King, Arish Bheraiya and alternates Ashley Young and Devin Fenner. Calculator team members are Clint Jordan Arish Bheraiya, Chris Cook, Ashley Young and alternates Devin Fenner and Shri Murthy. Number Sense – Clint Jordan, Thomas King, Devin Fenner, Dallas Stewart and alternates Shri Murthy and Adrienne Fontenot. The next competition for these students is Saturday, April 11, at the 20-4A District Academic Meet, hosted by Orangefield. Coaches Terry Morris, Nita Stewart, Jeff Collier, and Cory Parson are preparing them for individual and team competition, with an eye on advancing to Regionals.

A budget workshop Friday revealed a possible change that could effect people in Orange County wanting to get married. County Clerk Brandy Robertson shared with the Commissioners Court bills being considered by the state legislature that would affect her office. Robertson said there is a bill pending that would have the Secretary of State’s office in Austin take over the issuing of marriage licenses instead of the county clerk’s office. Robertson informed the commissioners that her office collected $37,620 for marriage licenses in 2014, half of that amount the county keeps for itself. County Judge Brint Carlton then questioned Robertson where couples wanting to get married would go for their license. Robertson said that issue has not been addressed in the pending legislation, which prompted Judge Carlton to wonder if the Department of Public Safety is ready to get into the marriage license business along with the driver’s license business. Commissioner Barry Burton added the court may want to pass a resolution and send it to the state legislature stating they believe marriage licenses should be handled on a local level. The Transportation Department also met with the Commissioners Court Friday to discuss its budget for next year. Valli Lott, Director for the Transportation Department, told the commissioners that her department has four vans each with over 100,000 miles on them. The vans are primarily used to deliver Meals on Wheels in the county. Commissioner John Banken foresees needing to replace those vehicles fairly soon. Banken was informed that four of the five county vans are used exclusively for the Meals on Wheels, and the commissioner suggested that when those vans need replacing mini-vans should be considered as replacements since they cost a lot less to operate in regards to fuel usage than the full sized vans. Lott agreed and added that other agencies with similar programs do use mini-vans for their deliveries. The county has provided the Meals on Wheels program for close to 30 years. Lott indicated the cost of the program is a minimum of $60,000 annually not counting the purchase of the vehicles.

Marriage License: Issued By the Office of Brandy Robertson, Orange County Clerk For the Week of March 23, 2015 thru March 27, 2015. Corey L. Smith and Amy L. Nesom, David W. Freeman Jr. and Lindsey L. Bryant, Phillip C. Smith Jr. and Cristy A. Burnett, Ernest G. Bevelhymer and Holli S. Buxton, Alex J. Murphy and Amber A. Moore, Wesley B. Huffman and Regina D. Franco, Marlin L. Smith and Martha A. Smith, Everette Thomas and Leah A. Hudson, Matthew C. Beard and Lauren R. Noack, Colton D. Elliott and Jessi M. Coutee. Arthur J. McGee and Mariefe A. Mahilum.

On Wednesday, March 25, 2015, around 9:00 PM, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office conducted a narcotics search warrant at a residence located at 9380 Terri Road off of FM 1136 in Mauriceville, Texas. During the search of the residence, Narcotics Officers seized in excess of five pounds of high-grade marihuana, over 100 ecstasy tablets and numerous psilocybin (hallucinogenic) mushrooms that were packaged for sale. A total of eight persons were arrested during the warrant for possession of marihuana and possession of a controlled substance, and one person was arrested for outstanding warrants.

An administrator for the West Orange-Cove school district on Tuesday asked members of the Orange City Council to oppose a proposed state bill that would give school district's grades like A, B, C, D, and F. Dr. Wayne Guidry, director of curriculum for WO-C, said school ratings hurt poor school districts and in turn hurt the communities. "Show me your campus rating and I'll show you how poor your students are," he said. Districts with wealthy students score higher on the standard testing systems than districts with poor students, he said. "Labeling campuses has segregated our communities both ethnically and economically more than any other factor in the 21st Century," he said. more

On March 25, 2015, at 11:58 p.m., Lake Charles Police received a 911 call to the Golden Nugget Casino (2550 Golden Nugget Boulevard) in reference to a suspicious person. Upon arrival, Golden Nugget Security advised officers that the suspicious male, later identified as 41 year old Kevin Lynn Hill of Vidor, was in the parking lot shining a light into vehicles and that Hill was previously banned from the property. Upon coming into contact with Hill, Officers found him to be displaying erratic behavior and he became combative. During a struggle, Hill introduced a knife and was tased and arrested. While Officers were transporting Hill to the Lake Charles Police Department booking facility, he advised that he had ingested PCP (Phencyclidine). A short time later, Hill kicked out the rear passenger window of the police unit, causing damage to the glass and the door frame. During booking, Hill continued to be combative and for his safety, was restrained in the department’s safety restraint chair. A short time later, Officers observed that Hill became lethargic and was foaming from the mouth. Acadian Ambulance was contacted and transported Hill to St. Patrick’s Hospital where he later died. As with any in-custody death, the Lake Charles Police Department asked the Louisiana State Police to conduct the investigation. During the last two weeks, the Lake Charles Police Department had been in contact with Hill in reference to disturbances at Golden Nugget Casino. On March 17, 2015, Hill was arrested for trespassing and resisting an officer. During that incident, Hill again told Officers that he had ingested PCP (Phencyclidine). On March 18, 2015, Lake Charles Police Officers were again dispatched to the Golden Nugget for a disturbance involving Hill. Hill, who had been banned from the casino due to the previous incident, was arrested for trespassing.

Tracy Byrd will be inducted into the Texas Country Hall of Fame Aug. 8, 2015, in Carthage Texas. Byrd was presented with a special Hall of Fame Blue Jean Jacket by Tommy Ritter Smith, CEO of The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame/Tex Ritter Museum and Randy Holland, owner of Real Country Booking. Smith is the cousin of Legendary “Tex” Ritter, one of the first inductees back in 1998. Byrd joins other notable members such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, The Gatlin Brothers, Mickey Gilley, Tanya Tucker, Jimmy Dean, Ernest Tubb, Neal McCoy, Buck Owen, Gene Autry and more. With more than 30 hit singles in his career, Byrd has 13 reaching the top 10. "Holdin' Heaven," charted at Number One on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts in 1993. Some of his other chart toppers include "Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo,” "Lifestyles of the Not So Rich and Famous,” "Watermelon Crawl" and "The First Step." "The Keeper of the Stars" won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association in 1995. The induction ceremony and Texas Country Music Hall of Fame Show will be held at 7 p.m., at the Carthage Civic Center, 1702 S. Adams. Tickets go on Sale May 1. For Tickets or more information call 903-693-6634.

Deweyville is still under a flood warning and the National Weather Service is now predicting the river will crest Monday at 26 feet. On Thursday morning, the level was at 25.7 feet. Flood level is 24 feet. Roads in the Indian Lake and River Oaks areas are prone to flooding at 26 feet. Flooding could also occur in river access roads in northeast Orange County.

Melissa Brewer’s class at Mauriceville Elementary wrapped up their “Fill the Bucket With Love” unit with an elegant dinner on Tuesday, March 24. The students received a certificate of excellence for the completion of their work and celebrated by dressing up for the day and having a nice noon meal. Students have been working on following the MVE C.A.R.E.S. school expectations, which states, “Here at MVE, our students are expected to be considerate, accepting, responsible, engaged, and safe.” They received beans to fill the “bucket of love” when they were caught following the school expectations or doing random acts of kindness. Once the bucket was full, the students earned a field trip to Claiborne Park.

A 19-year-old driving a large sedan was given a ticket for failure to stop and render aid after Orange police said she hit the back of a motorcycle on an Interstate 10 access road. The driver of the motorcycle, 39-year-old Cambridge Courtney Kelly of Orange, was taken by Acadian Ambulance to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont with a knee injury and some cuts and bruises.  The accident was about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday in the 2400 block of Lutcher Drive near the Toyota dealership. Officer Holland reported that a Ford Five Hundred was traveling westbound in the outside lane. The sedan hit the rear of the motorcycle, causing Kelly to fall off. The sedan traveled away and the driver did not stop. Holland said Alia Ronetria Roberts of Orange was given a citation for failure to stop and render aid.

Wayne Thomas Guidry, director of curriculum with the West Orange-Cove CISD, will become the new District 2 council member of the Orange City Council. Guidry is the only person to file for the special election to fill the unexpired term of Tommy Ferguson. Ferguson is running for mayor and will have to relinquish the District 2 seat whether he wins or loses. Ferguson will serve until May 9 when the special election was set for the same time as the general City Council election. Guidry will take the oath of office in May with the newly-elected mayor and other council member.

Two people who live in the neighborhood by Solomon Johnson Park told the Orange City Council they don't want more basketball courts near their houses. Ruby Richard, who lives on Second Street, said the courts should be moved to the nearby Navy Park, which is larger. She said the corner at Second and Turret streets is hard to travel because of the traffic caused by one basketball court. When the city adds two more courts, the traffic will be worst. Susie Murray, who lives next to the park on First Street, said her husband is a Viet Nam veteran who has post traumatic stress disorder. Noises like firecrackers and gunshots trigger his stress, she said. The one basketball court already draws loud noises, profanity and gambling, she said. Murray also said Solomon Johnson Park does not have parking. People drawn to the additional basketball courts will end up parking at the Orange Trade Days site, the former Weingarten's shopping center, across the street. She said the owner of the property does not want people parking there and he will be calling police to have the cars moved. more 

Madeleine Fuselier, an alumni of St. Mary Catholic School and presently a junior at Kelly High school, presented a service project to St. Mary Catholic School students and staff. Fuselier is organizing to collect uniforms, shoes, and funds for Catholic schools in Cameron (West Africa). She is focusing first on an elementary school that will soon be built in the village of Nkar. Fuselier’s family befriended a priest named Father Eugen Nkarzedze a few years ago when he visited Saint Mary Catholic Church. Father Eugen says that building the new school in Nkar is an "immediate way of showing the radical Islamic group that we are not giving up on Western and Christian education." Offering children a chance to receive a Catholic education helps spread peace and love in the world, as opposed to hatred and violence.

On Tuesday March 24, 2015 at 3:55 p.m., the Pinehurst Police Department responded to the 2400 blk. of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. in reference to an accident involving a pickup truck and motorcycle. The accident occurred in front of Pinehurst City Hall and Police Department. David Matthew Lester, 38, of Pinehurst, was traveling Southbound in the 2400 Block of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on a 2007 Ducati motorcycle. Raymond Arthur, 78, also of Pinehurst, was traveling Westbound on Pheasant Dr., in a 2004 GMC pickup truck. Mr. Arthur failed to yield right of way at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and Pheasant Drive and drove in front of Mr. Lester. The motorcycle and driver struck the right rear portion of the pickup truck. Mr. Lester, who appeared to have serious injuries was transported by Acadian Ambulance to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital where he is listed in stable condition in ICU. Mr. Arthur was issued a citation for failure to yield right of way. The Pinehurst Volunteer Fire Department responded and assisted in the accident. Incidentally, Pinehurst Police dispatcher, Leslie Werner, who is a certified paramedic and was on a break, was able to walk across the parking lot and assist in stabilizing the patient.

The annual Pinehurst Spring Cleanup Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 11. The Pinehurst City Council met Tuesday evening and approved the second Saturday in April for the citywide cleanup day. The city will accept trash and items to be thrown away between 8:00 AM to 12 Noon on April 11 in front of the old Parker Lumber store. The committee appointed to help find a new City Administrator updated the council during the meeting. The committee has reviewed the original 23 applications for the position and has reduced the list to the top six applicants. The committee intends to interview those six candidates Thursday and Friday. The final two or three applicants will be chosen by the committee and presented to the Council. The City Council will interview the finalists and make the decision on the new city administrator, possibly as early as the next Pinehurst City Council meeting on April 14. Sandersen, Knox and Company presented their 2013-2014 city audit Tuesday evening which the council accepted.

Bob Hall Road in Orange is closed where it runs under Interstate 10.  TxDOT says it will be closed approximately 90 days. only carries summations of news stories.  For the full story including interviews, tune in to KOGT Vocal News at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, and 11:50am, as well as 4:30 and 5:30pm weekdays.

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