A 40-year-old man arrested last year in an Orange County drug bust faces a mandatory sentence of life in federal prison after a Beaumont jury convicted him of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of meth and being a felon in possession of firearms. Stephen Shane Hall and five others were arrested in August 2013 at a house in the 300 block of Spooner Road in the Bridge City area. The Orange County Sheriff's Office reported at the time that they found about four ounces of meth, doses of LSD and drug paraphernalia. They also found a semi-automatic pistol, a Derringer-style pistol, a semi-automatic rifle and numerous combat-style knives. Hall's trial was held before U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. U.S. Attorney John M. Bales of the Eastern District of Texas, whose office prosecuted the case, said courtroom testimony showed the law enforcement officers investigated Hall and the others from February 2013 to August 2013. A federal grand jury in November indicted Stephen Shane Hall, Misty Hall, Kevin Trent Portie and Scott Robicheaux with federal drug trafficking violations. Misty Hall, Portie and Robicheaux have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Stephen Shane Hall went to trial. Prosecutors are Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Englade and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell James. The case was investigated by the Orange County Sheriff's Office; the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the FBI and the Beaumont Police Department.
TxDOT Lane Closures- Orange: The inside lane of IH10 eastbound from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to 16th Street will be closed Aug. 23, from 8am-11am for barrier repair. Beaumont: The eastbound exit ramp 856(US90) from IH10 will be closed Mon.-Wed. Aug.25-27 and Tues.-Thurs. Sept.2-4, 10am-8pm, to unload and hang beams for the eastbound lanes of the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge (Neches River). Traffic wishing to exit at ramp 856(US90) can exit at Asher Turnaround (exit 858); The outside lane and on-ramp of US 69 northbound between Highland Avenue and Spur 93 will be closed 7pm-5am Monday night, August 25th, for crews to remove concrete traffic barrier and to stripe the roadway; The southbound, inside of US69 at the Delaware overpass will be closed Sun.-Thurs., Aug. 24-28, 7pm-5am.
Marriage Licenses Issued By The Office of Karen Jo Vance, Orange County Clerk For the Week of August 18, 2014 through August 22, 2014, Richard G. Gordon and Christina M. Carver, Justin L. Peddy and Motchen R. Hayes, Danny T. Jeffcoat and Amanda J. Walker, Dane F. Quarles and Jamie N. Gauthier.
The Rotary Club of Orange is proud to host and introduce Salome’ Poirault from La Rochelle, France as their 2014 Rotary Youth Exchange Student. Salome’ will begin her exchange living with Bryan and Jennifer Burtsfield and their family. Jennifer is the current President of the Rotary Club of Orange. She will also have the opportunity to live with at least one and possibly two more families this year before completing her exchange. She will also be counseled throughout the year by Rotary Counselor/Coordinator, Sue Denosowicz. Salome’ will attend Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School and will be classified as a Senior. The Rotary Club welcomes her with open arms and knows that the community of Orange and the people who live here will prove to be one of the best experiences she’s had. “I am thrilled to live with my new family in Orange, Texas” said Salome’. “I am looking forward to learning about the culture of the United States. This has been a lifelong dream for me.” The Rotary Youth Exchange Program allows a foreign student to live with host families and attend school locally for one year. Participating in this program as a student or a host family helps everyone to understand and see a different way of life, learn about a different country and culture. In particular, it allows people to see people in other parts of the world, as not better, not worse – just different – and almost without knowing it, people begin to develop a better understanding and respect for others around the world. For many participants, the “exchange adventure” has been a fascinating growing experience.
|West Orange – Cove Superintendent James Colbert hosted a Fourth Annual Pastor Luncheon this week, inviting church leaders from throughout the community. The roundtable luncheon provided the opportunity to address the start of school and the state of WOCCISD schools in terms of budget, facilities, and academic performance. Superintendent James Colbert (front row, left) is joined by: (front row) Ernest Lindsey, Starlight Church of God in Christ; Dr. Carolyn McCall-Livingston, Salem United Methodist Church; C.W. Crawford, Mt. Zion Baptist Church; Travis Hood, Cove Baptist Church; (back row) Steven Burks, Victory Life Church; Van Barnett, Mt. Sinai Baptist Church; Demetrius Moffett, First Church of God; K. Ray McDowell, 1st Nazarene Church; Cody Florence, Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church; Dr. John H. Smith Jr., Mt. Calvary Baptist Church; and John Warren, 1st United Methodist Church. Not pictured are Randy Branch, Wesley United Methodist Church; and Risa Adams, Community Church.|
|Local Author Mike Trahan has released his new book, “The Gift Part Three – The Delta Years.” He will have a book signing Saturday, August 23, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, at his home at 1014 Lansing Street in West Orange. This book is the third, in a four book series, about the author’s flying career, which began at age fifteen at Brown Airport, and ended at age sixty, when he retired from Delta Air Lines. “The Gift Part Three” covers the first sixteen years of Mike’s thirty-two year career at Delta. Mike has invited his friend and fellow author, Rebecca McLendon to join him for this event. Becky will be there with her book, “The Day I Grew Wings.”|
On Thursday, August 21, 2014, around 10:20 p.m., Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, along with assistance from the Vidor Police Department, conducted a search warrant at a residence in the 4500 block of Caribou Road, Orange, Orange County, Texas. During the search, Deputies located approximately 36 grams of methamphetamine. The resident, identified as 33 year old white female Larissa Jester of Orange, along with 56 year old white male Roger Hanks of Vinton, Louisiana, were arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance, a 2nd Degree Felony. Both Jester and Hanks were taken to the Orange County Jail. On Friday morning, August 22, 2014, Justice of the Peace Precinct #1, Judge David Peck, arraigned both Jester and Hanks and set each of their bond at $10,000. Jester and Hanks remain in custody at the Orange County Jail.
At the August School Board meeting, several 2014 graduates were mentioned for the extraordinary achievement of being named AP Scholars by The College Board. These students have demonstrated college-level achievement in their Advanced Placement courses and exams. Because of the timing of the release of the AP Scholars list, most students named AP Scholar have already left for school and are unable to attend the Board meeting to receive their recognition from the Board. To be named an AP Scholar, students must receive a 3 or higher on three or more Advanced Placement Exams. These students are Jace Bagwell, Katherine Burns, Elizabeth Irwin, Taylor Landry, Diane Maldonado, and Savanna Smith. Students who receive an average score of 3.25 on all Advanced Placement Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams are named AP Scholar with Honor. These students are Michael Chen, Lawson Cox, Chelsea McLain, and Scott Sawyer. Also at the Board meeting, David Jones, immediate past President of the Board of Trustees received a plaque for his service and leadership to the Board. Assistant Superintendent, Greg Perry, thanked him for his commitment, dedication and hard work required in serving, not only on the Board, but in the office of president.
The Orange City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday for comments on the proposed $26.7 million budget. The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. in the council auditorium next to the Orange Public Library. The proposed budget has a slight decrease in the property tax rate, from 69 cents per $100 valuation to 68.1 cents per $100 valuation.
In addition, the budget has a 3.4 percent increase for the water and sewer rates. If a household uses $50 a month for water and sewer service, the rates will go up about $1.70 a month.
The budget includes a 2 percent cost of living pay raise for city employees not represented by a union. The unions representing the police and firefighters are currently in negotiations with the city for a new contract with salary scales. At the end of Tuesday's meeting, the council will go into a closed-door executive session to discuss those contract negotiations. The council will also review the contract for City Manager Shawn Oubre.
A house burglary and an attempted house burglary were reported in the 400 block of Camellia Avenue in the Roselawn neighborhood Wednesday night. A house in the 300 block of Camellia was burglarized Monday. According to Orange Police Department reports, a call was made a 8:37 p.m. to report a break-in. Stolen items were a 55-inch TV, a 19-inch TV and a Wii game system. Then at 10:39 p.m., a neighbor reported an attempted break-in with damaged property. Jewelry and a TV were stolen in the burglary that was reported Monday afternoon.
A jail break happened at the Orange dog pound Wednesday afternoon. Employees at the animal shelter on Simmons Drive called police at 2:59 p.m. to report that someone had forced a locked gate open. Two dogs were missing. The break-in was between 11:55 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave said the employees have a suspect because a man had come by asking how much the fees would be on the two dogs. When they told him the price, he left. No arrests have been made.
Orange police are investigating a report that a man was cut during an attempted robbery. The victim said the attack was outside of the Orange post office Wednesday evening. The victim said three men held him down on the ground and one cut him several times around his body. The man told Officer Byron Perry that he was walking out of the post office when the three men approached him and demanded money. They threw him to the ground with two men holding him down. The other man held a box cutter at his neck. After the victim told them he had only $2, the man with the box cutter began cutting him on the upper chest, abdomen and top of forearm, according to the police report. The victim managed to get one arm free and hit the man cutting him in the head. The three then ran away north on Fourth Street and then turned east toward the apartments on Pine Avenue. The man called police from a grocery store on 16th Street at 7:51 p.m. The police station is four blocks from the post office. He did not seek medical attention, according to the report.
On Thursday, August 21, 2014, around 12:15 a.m., an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy conducted a traffic stop on a 2010 Chrysler four door passenger vehicle on IH-10 Eastbound at the 865 mile marker for following too close. The Deputy became suspicious after questioning the driver and a passenger, which led to consent to search his vehicle. The Deputy located approximately 400 grams of cocaine wrapped in duct tape and plastic, hidden in the trunk. The driver was identified as 29 year old black male Tyronne Gillin and the passenger was identified as 23 year old black female Erica Patin, both of New Orleans, Louisiana. Gillin and Patin were placed under arrest of Possession of a Controlled Substance, a 1st Degree Felony, and booked into the Orange County Jail. During the book-in process, it was discovered that Patin had 67 illegally possessed prescription pills identified as Tramadol, hidden in clear plastic packaging under her clothing. Patin faced an additional charge of a Class B misdemeanor for Possession of a Controlled Substance. Justice of the Peace Precinct #1, Judge David Peck, arraigned Gillin and set his bond at $50,000. Patin’s bond was set at $51,000. Both Gillin and Patin remain in custody at the Orange County Jail.
The Orange City Council is considering a $27.6 million budget for the new fiscal year. More than half of that amount will be spent to pay salaries and benefits of city employees. The city has 194 full-time workers and two part-time. Many of them work for the police and fire departments. City Manager Shawn Oubre presented a break-down of the expenses in a letter to the council. The city pays 58.5 percent of the budget on personnel. The next largest expenditure category is for maintenance and services with 24.1 percent. Those items would include keeping the water and sewer departments running, plus the police cars and fire trucks in good condition.
Debt service takes up 10.8 percent of the budget. Debt service is the payments the city makes each year to pay back loans acquired through issuing bonds.
The city spends 3.9 percent on capital outlay. The category covers the purchase of equipment like dump trucks and police cars.
Supplies for operating the city departments takes up 2.7 percent of the budget.
The City Council will have a public hearing on the proposed budget during a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the auditorium next to the Orange Public Library. The proposed budget has a slight decrease in the property tax rate and a small increase in water and sewer charges.
A woman living in the 2200 block of Coronado Place left her SUV running in the driveway Tuesday morning to go back into her house for a couple of minutes. That's all the time someone needed to steal the vehicle. The woman called Orange police at 7:38 a.m. to report that her 2011 gray Kia Sorento was stolen.
Johnny Manziel isn't the only person getting in trouble for his gestures. A man from Orange was arrested late Monday morning for resisting arrest after police went to check on complaints about a man making "inappropriate gestures." Officer Patrick McDonald went to the 2200 block of 16th Street at 11:25 a.m. He reported that a man was "flipping off cars" because he heard speakers "saying his name." McDonald said he found a bag in the man's pocket that was labeled KUSH, a brand of synthetic marijuana. The man tried to run off but McDonald caught him. The officer reported the man tried to push away from him. The officer said he had to place the man on the hood of his car. The man still had to be forcefully handcuffed, the officer said. Perry Lee Heard Jr. was taken to the Orange County Jail for misdemeanor resisting arrest. Officer McDonald said the bag of KUSH had an "unusable amount" of the drug.
Police had to go to a house on Circle C twice Tuesday morning because an intoxicated woman was breaking windows in a house. Officer Patrick McDonald reported he first went to the house at 6:58 a.m. He allowed the woman's husband to take her back to their house nearby. Then at 10:27 a.m. police were called back to the house because the woman had returned. Nina Michelle Garcia was arrested for misdemeanor public intoxication.
Other Orange police calls include:
Burglary, 8:06 a.m. Monday, The Horseman Store at 519 Lutcher Drive. Someone broke inside the store and stole three Wrangler classic western shirts and a 34-inch Nocona leather belt.
Larceny from a vehicle, 8:41 a.m. Monday, Amaryllis Street. Wallet with cash, credit cards and identification stolen.
Unauthorized use of a vehicle, 11:43 a.m. Monday, 800 block Sixth Street. Someone the victim knows threw a brick through the window of her car while she was driving. The brick hit her in the face. When she got out, she got out of the car, the other person got inside a drove away.
Larceny from yard, 1:41 a.m. Monday, 6700 block Guy Lane. A red Huffy riding lawn mower was stolen.
Burglary, 2:42 p.m. Monday, 300 block Camellia Avenue. Owner discovered that about $8,000 worth of jewelry and watches was stolen, along with a 32-inch TV. Entry was made by breaking a back window.
Larceny from yard, 1:38 p.m. Tuesday, 600 block 13th Street. Push-style lawn mower was stolen from inside a fenced yard.
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Derry Dunn isn't sitting on his bench wearing a robe these days. He's propped up in bed, wearing shorts, with a small medical device connected to hoses taped around the calf of his right leg. Every couple of minutes the machine starts up and makes a noise. It's a wound vacuum doing its job to help heal the two large holes in Dunn's leg. The bedside table is covered in prescription pill bottles of all sizes. But at least he's home in Mauriceville. He spent 14 of the past 16 days in hospitals. Dunn is a survivor of what is called 'flesh-eating' bacteria. He contracted the bacteria while in the Gulf of Mexico during a family reunion at Crystal Beach. On Tuesday, he and his wife Jane were joking and laughing about the past few days. She pointed out, though, that she's had a lot of tears, too. "It was so fast it was insane," she said about the spread of the bacteria. He faced the possibility of having the leg amputated. Some people die. "It just got so severe so quick," he said. "You're going along in your life and all of a sudden you're making a decision: Do I want to keep my leg?" more
Budget workshops for the county have been held the last couple of weeks and will continue next week as well. During discussions at the workshop this afternoon the topic of the county needing to borrow money to pay bills for the final quarter was raised. County Auditor Mary Johnson joined County Judge Carl Thibodeaux and Commissioner John Banken in agreement on the strong possibility the county will need to borrow money. Thibodeaux said the county will need to include the interest in next year’s budget, but Banken does not want to wait until the last minute like last year. Johnson said County Treasurer Christy Khoury and Assistant District Attorney Doug Manning would need to get the ball rolling to borrow the money. Khoury is on vacation this week, but Thibodeaux said he will get with her when she gets back to work out details of the loan.
Lamar State-Port Arthur conferred 122 degrees, certificates at Summer 2014 Commencement. Lamar State College-Port Arthur awarded 59 two-year associate degrees and 63 certificates of completion at its Summer 2014 Commencement Ceremony held Friday, August 15 at the Parker Center in Port Arthur. Carl A. Parker, a member of the Texas Legislature for more than 30 years and for whom the Parker Center was named, was the keynote speaker. Much of his talk focused on Dr. W. Sam Monroe, who is retiring later this month after four decades as president of the college, and the work the two men did to grow Lamar State College-Port Arthur. Those graduates from Orange County include- Orange: Jacob Blain Viator (Kinesiology), Blair Bishop (Vocational Nursing), Deborah Ruth Duke (Vocational Nursing); Bridge City: Erica Rae Green (Surgical Technology); Michael McElroy (Instrumentation Technology); Breanna Nicole Smith (Surgical Technology), Kathryn Ann Beebe (Vocational Nursing); Vidor: Jill Annette Kunst (Vocational Nursing).
The 8-26-14 agendas for the Orange Economic Development Corporation meeting and the Orange City Council meeting are now online at www.orangetexas.net.
Orange County Sheriff's Calls Aug. 12-19
Enterprise Products may be the big one that got away from Orange County since Enterprise decided to build their billion dollar liquid petroleum plant on the Houston Ship Channel instead of in Orange County. The county still made a strong impression with Enterprise according to Orange County Commissioner David Dubose who met with officials from Enterprise Products August 15. Dubose and Orange County Economic Development Director Bobby Fillyaw both talked with vice-presidents from Enterprise which invested about 180 million dollars in the county when it was looking to build the plant on the Neches River in western Orange County. Dubose said Enterprise told him that Orange County is still on their “radar”, and Dubose informed them that Orange County is still open for business and encouraged them that the county is open to any future endeavors they might have in Orange County.
Bridge City is still working to fix the problem with the city’s water system. City Manager Jerry Jones says despite new pumps and numerous flushings the water problem is not resolved. The city is trying to control the problem right now. Many of the areas that were having problems are not having a problem, but other areas have popped up with the brown water. Jones is hopeful the city is making some progress and with reduced flow as the summer ends the problem will gradually decrease. City Manager Jones adds they are looking at a filtering system for the main well in the water system. The initial cost of the filtering system would be close to a half a million dollars with a monthly maintenance cost of about 10 thousand dollars for all three wells. Longtime Bridge City resident Margaret Jones complains the discolored water in the city is nothing new for her.
Jones told the city council she has had water problems for many, many years. She addressed the problem as far back as Mayor P. M. Wood in Bridge City. Jones brought Wood quarts of water with sediments and her neighbor actually had the city buy her laundry that was discolored by the water. She was one of a half dozen citizens that spoke to the city council. Mayor Kirk Roccaforte understands the citizens’ concerns and assured them the city’s workers are doing all they can to fix the problem. Roccaforte says the workers in the city’s water department are well trained and are working extremely hard to fix the problem. The mayor said he is behind them all the way. Roccaforte encourages all citizens with any problem, water or other issues, should bring it to the city council.
Public hearings were held by the City Council in Bridge City Tuesday on the budget and ad valorem tax for the fiscal year. There were no citizen comments on either during the hearings. The City Council will vote to approve the 47.8 cents per 100 dollars valuation tax rate at the September 16 council meeting. City Manager Jerry Jones updated the city council on storm related projects in Bridge City. Most of the projects being done with storm related grant money are closing down, and if they can be completed by the end of the year Jones indicates Bridge City might be eligible for leftover money from other grants to do more projects. Next Wednesday Bridge City officials and engineers hired by the city to appeal federal flood maps will meet with FEMA at the Community Center in Bridge City to discuss the appeal. The public is welcome to attend the meeting at 1:00 PM. In other business the city council approved a new contract with the Bridge City Police Association. City Manager Jones said the negotiations were good and all sides were pleased with the contract.
The Brown Hangar at the Orange County Airport has been an eyesore for months. Commissioner John Banken has asked county Maintenance Director Mark Wimberley for some projections on what it would cost to fix it up. Banken repeated his request Monday. Banken expressed concern about the appearance of the old hangar, but also was curious to how much it will cost to make it look better and wants to look at some numbers though. He asked Wimberley if there were any bids on painting the hangar. Wimberley referred the question to Emergency Management Director Jeff Kelley who has had some dealing with the hangar. Kelley said the latest bids for painting and repairs on the hangar are about 3 ½ years old. Banken and Wimberley agreed to get together to see what can be done with the hangar. The first step towards addressing the problem occurred Tuesday morning as Wimberley and Jeff Kelley met with Banken at the airport. The structure of the hangar is in good shape, has a little surface rust that needs to be hand cleaned, primed, and painted according to Banken. Kelley is working on a project for that and should have the details put together in a few months. Banken is sure the project will be in next year’s budget. There had been questions to the safety of the hangar to paint it, but Banken confirms that should be not a problem upon his inspection Tuesday.
Two public hearings on the county budget and the proposed tax rate were approved by the Commissioners’ Court Monday. Commissioners at the recommendation of County Judge Carl Thibodeaux approved using .5440 as the proposed rate for next year, which is the same as last year’s tax rate. The dates of the two public hearings in September were also recommended by Judge Thibodeaux as Monday, September 8, at 1 PM and Monday, September 15, at 6 PM. He said this will satisfy the Texas statutes dealing with truth in taxation and still allow the Commissioners’ Court to vote on the tax rate on the 22nd. September 22 is the target date set by Thibodeaux for approval of the new budget and tax rate.
Tax Assessor Lynda Gunstream requested Monday the Commissioners’ Court approving her filling one of two clerk’s positions in the tax office that will be vacant by the end of August. Commissioners Jody Crump and John Banken asked if Gunstream could wait until the new fiscal year to fill one of the positions. Gunstream said the timing would be tough for her office since that is the start of the tax season when her office gets busier, and she would want to train a new clerk some before the peak time. Gunstream has been willing to work with one less clerk, but two less clerks is making it difficult. After much discussion Judge Thibodeaux called for the vote with Commissioner Crump respectfully voting against the motion to hire the clerk at this time, saying he preferred waiting until October. As an elected official Gunstream was not required to seek Commissioners’ Court approval to fill the position. Commissioners approved Monday Sabrina Gray to purchase stage lighting for the Expo Center’s main ball room. The need for an audio-visual system to be installed in the ball room which is where most exhibitions are held may wait until a budget meeting on next year’s budget.
The Orange City Council didn't have any fireworks about a fireworks show. Monday afternoon the council had its first budget workshop and didn't argue with City Manager Shawn Oubre added $20,000 to cover a Fourth of July fireworks show. "Yay!" exclaimed Councilwoman Mary McKenna. "Thank you," was the reply from Councilwoman Theresa Beauchamp. The council last month discussed the possibility of having a fireworks show at the Riverfront Pavilion on Labor Day. However, council members said they thought Orange should have an Independence Day fireworks show. For nearly 30 years, a local business sponsored the fireworks show but quit five years ago. The proposed 2014-15 budget totals $27.6 million. The new budget also calls for a slight decrease in the property tax rate and a 2.7 percent increase in water and sewer rates. City employees are in line for a 2 percent cost of living pay raise. The council was set to have a closed-door executive session at the end of the workshop to discuss Oubre’s contract. However, City Attorney Jack Smith could not attend the meeting and the review will be postponed.
Melissa Davis, a teacher at Mauriceville Elementary in Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD, will serve in a new leadership position as she heads back to school for 2014-15. On August 1, she began a one-year term as a district director for the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, a non-union professional association for teachers, librarians, counselors and other classroom professionals with 50,000 members across the state. Davis was elected in June by TCTA members from District 5 — a six-county area that includes Tyler and Orange — who attended the TCTA’s state convention in Fort Worth. She will represent District 5 TCTA members on the TCTA Directors’ Council, which sets policy for the statewide association, and she will assist leaders of TCTA local affiliates in her district. “I was honored to be elected as district director, and I am looking forward to serving the teachers of District 5,” Davis said. A TCTA member for five years, Davis also serves as the president of the TCTA local affiliate in LCM CISD.
Alcohol, gasoline and lighters don't mix well. Orange police had a 9-1-1 call Friday night at 9:39 concerning a man throwing gasoline on another man and setting a fire. However, no one was seriously hurt. Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave said the people involved were drinking and no one wanted to file charges. Officer M.T. Roush reported that he went to the 200 block of Farragut Street. A man told him that someone he knew took his cell phone. He found the man at First and Curtis streets and got his phone back and went home. The second man went to the house and threatened to set the resident on fire. He had a plastic drink bottle with gasoline and threw gas toward his target and pulled out a lighter. The intended victim ran away. However, the man with the gasoline and the lighter accidentally caught fire and rode away on a bike. Captain Hargrave said officers found the man and he had burns on his ankle. He refused medical treatment and the target of the thrown gasoline didn't want to file charges.
Orange police didn't have far to drive to take a suspected drunk driver to jail Friday night. Officer D.B Mulhollan reported that he was called to an accident at 8:48 p.m. Friday in the 200 block of Border Street, the same block as the Orange County Jail. A red pickup truck had been traveling northbound, left the roadway and hit a utility pole with the passenger side outside mirror. Then the truck ran front ways into another utility pole. The driver, a 53-year-old man from Orange, was not hurt but was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Also during the weekend, copper thefts were reported at a house in the 600 block of Bridal Wreath and in the 3500 block of Bowling Lane. A burglary at a house in the 3000 block of 16th Street was discovered Sunday morning. Someone got inside the house between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. and stole a 32-inch TV. At 12.22 a.m. Monday, a woman living at a house in the 1500 block of Church Street was awakened by a loud noise. She walked to the kitchen for a phone and found herself walking on broken glass from a window. She called 9-1-1. Police discovered had thrown a rock through the window but apparently did not get inside.
On Wednesday, August 13, 2014, around 10:30 a.m., Orange County Sheriff’s Narcotics Deputies conducted a search warrant at 1215 Hwy 12, Apartment A, in Vidor, stemming from an investigation of illegal drug activity. During the search warrant, Deputies found approximately 40 grams of Methamphetamine in the residence. The occupants of the residence, all from Vidor, were arrested and booked into the Orange County Jail for Possession of a Controlled Substance, a 2nd Degree Felony. The names of those arrested were (left to right): Christian Swaim, 33 year old white female, Ginger Swaim, 57 year old white female; Annabelle Swaim, 32 year old white female; Christopher John Smith, 31 year old white male; James Townsend, 26 year old white male. Justice of the Peace of Precinct #1, Judge David Peck, set a bond of $5,000 on each of the arrestees for the Possession of a Controlled Substance charge. Christopher Smith also had four warrants for Class B misdemeanors, which increased his total bond to $7,000, and Annabelle Swaim had four Class C Misdemeanor warrants for traffic violations, which increased her bond to $6,000.
FOUND - Female dog. Orangefield Area. FM 105 and 1135.
A former church music minister indicted in two North Texas counties for sexual assault of a child is a former Bridge City resident and previously worked with churches in Bridge City. 23-year-old Garrett Kyler surrendered to authorities this week. He has been indicted on the felony counts in Dallas and Rockwall counties. Kyler attended Bridge City High School but did not graduate from the school. He has also worked as a music minister for a Beaumont Methodist church.
Friday Judge Courtney Arkeen of the 128th District Court ruled that two of the six 15-year sentences against Joshua Luke McDonald will be served consecutively. McDonald pleaded guilty in June to six counts of sexual assault involving two females under the age of 17 back in 2011 and 2012. An 8 man, 4 woman jury in the 128th District Court heard evidence Monday and Tuesday during the sentencing phase of the case. The jury deliberated about 3 ½ hours before sentencing McDonald on Wednesday to 15 years in state prison on each of the 6 counts against him. Judge Arkeen’s ruling today was made on a motion by District Attorney Phillip Smith who tried the case for the prosecution. Smith explained he sought to have at least two of the sentences stacked because there were two victims in the case, and thus there should be two punishments, one for each victim in this case.
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People in the city of Orange might have to pay a little extra on their monthly water and sewer bills starting in October. City Manager Shawn Oubre is proposing the city have a 3.4 percent increase in water and sewer rates. If a household pays $50 a month for water and sewer, the increase would add $1.70 a month. Oubre and the city staff gave City Council the proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year this week. In a letter to the council members, the manager said the water and sewer fund has a $606,000 deficit in the current budget year. The city did not raise rates last year but can make up the loss from savings in the reserve fund. The water and sewer departments operate under a separate "enterprise" budget. That means the services are supposed to pay for themselves with revenues made through charges to customers. The new budget also includes a 2.7 percent increase in the costs of garbage pick-up by Waste Management. The new rate for a residence with one cart will be $21.34 a month. Oubre is also suggesting a 2 percent cost of living raise for all city employees. City Council this week agreed to set a property tax rate of 68.13 cents per $100 valuation, a slight decrease from the current rate of 69 cents per $100 valuation.
The total expenditures in the proposed budget are at $27.6 million. If the city operates according to the plans in the budget without emergencies, the city should have almost $9.7 million in reserve funds for savings.
City Council will hold public workshops to review the proposed budget and make changes. A final vote on the budget, and any increases in fees, will be taken in September when the council officially adopts the budget. The first workshop will be 4 p.m. Monday in the Ira Williamson meeting room inside the Orange Public Library. The agenda includes a closed-door executive session for the council to review Oubre’s contract and salary for the new fiscal year. Any decision will be made during a public vote.
Look Left and "Cast Your Vote"
The Orange City Council is considering installing a round splash pad with fountains to play in at either Navy Park or Sunset Park. The council met Tuesday morning and the park improvements were part of the agenda. Planning Director Jimmie Lewis presented two plans for putting in a splash pad plus a small skate park at one of the parks. Public Works Director Jim Wolf said the splash pad would be 43 feet in diameter. The spray fountains could be turned on and off and would not run all the time. The skate park area would be built of stainless steel and include half of a half pipe used for tricks. District 2 Councilmember Tommy Ferguson suggested that perhaps the city could leave out the skate park and have two splash pads. At-Large Councilmember Larry Spears said the council should have a public workshop so citizens can give their opinions on what to do. District 1 Councilmember Theresa Beauchamp said she liked the idea of having the improvements at Sunset Park because the park would help beautify 16th Street and show off what the city has to offer. However, At-Large Councilmember Bill Mello is concerned about a splash pad at the 16th Street park because of the possibilities of children running into traffic. The total park improvements for the splash pad and skate park will cost about $170,000 for each park. The city has $105,000 in federal community development block grant funds to spend. The rest of the money could come from remaining money in a grant money fund or from the money earned from selling a small part of Memorial Park to an Interstate 10 car dealership. The park development would be in three phases with a final cost of about $400,000.
In other business, the council approved a new property tax rate of 68.13 cents per $100 valuation. That's a slight decrease from the current rate of 69 cents per $100. The city's property tax rate has gone down from 74.5 cents per $100 three years ago. The main reason is because of new industrial district contracts that have the Chemical Row industrial plants paying a larger percentage for in-lieu-of-taxes contracts. The contracts mean the city negotiates to with the industries outside of the city limits, but in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction. The city two years ago began annexation proceedings to annex some of the plants, which then negotiated new contracts.