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The National Hurricane Center has lowered the chances of the system in the eastern Gulf of Mexico to develop into a tropical cyclone to 10 percent over the next few days. This system is expected to move rapidly westward and move into Texas by late Monday or early Tuesday. The only local impacts will be increased rain chances, especially along and south of the I-10 corridor early next week. Rain chances increase across the entire region by the middle of next week.
 
Two people were taken to the hospital after a two vehicle accident Saturday night at the intersection of N. Hwy. 87 and Abes Road.

As the sun began to rise in Orange on September 13, the wind was coming in from the northeast. But if the citizens were thinking they might be getting a fall cool front, they were wrong. That Wednesday ended as the most deadly day in local history as a hurricane with winds blew more than 100 miles per hour landed in the small town that was already suffering from a loss of local men after the Civil War. The year was 1865. The Texas Hurricane History by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that 25 people died in Orange, killed mostly by falling debris and flying timbers. The town was leveled with 196 of 200 homes demolished. more

 
Pinehurst Firefighter Shon Branham fights a house fire Friday morning.  Pinehurst FD and McLewis FD arrived at a duplex at 2406 41st Street where it appeared the fire started in a bedroom.  What didn't burn received heavy smoke damage.  No injuries were reported.
   
Socks is a 9 lb Peekapoo. He is missing from his home in Mauriceville since Friday 9/12/2014 at 10:30 pm. Please contact Robert or Gayle at 409 422 9760.

TxDOT Traffic on I-10 in Orange County
·         The westbound, outside lane of IH10 from FM1136-FM1442 will be closed 8pm-5am Sunday night for road work.
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The westbound, outside lane of IH10 from approximately 16th Street-the Sabine River will be closed Sunday-Tuesday nights, Sept. 14-16, 9pm-5am, for shoulder reconstruction.

Bridge City seems to be getting a handle on the brown water problem. The first week of September the city received only a few calls on the colored water. City Manager Jerry Jones reports a similar low volume of complaints during the second week of the month. Jones says the city has corrected the calibrations on all the pumps, is still flushing the system, and looping the lines. Jones believes the ultimate solution to the brown water will be installing a filter on the Bridge City water system. Jones points out the filtering systems are very expensive, and he is looking for ways to fund one of those. Jones adds that if Bridge City can find a grant to pay for a filtering system they’ll go ahead and do that. The purchasing of a filtering system is not in Bridge City’s proposed 2014-2015 budget which is scheduled for approval on Tuesday. That is why Jones is looking to find grant money to pay for the filtering system.
Grady Johnson, "The Governor of Pinehurst" was congratulated by many friends and family during his 90th birthday party Saturday at Robert's.
   
The Orange County Radio Control Club had a demonstration Saturday at their site on FM 1442. Club member Bob Lane said some of the airplanes cost $8,000 to $10,000.

Marriage Licenses Issued By The Office of Karen Jo Vance, Orange County Clerk For the Week of September 8, 2014 through September 12, 2014. William M. Brocato Jr. and Candice D. Cline, Gregory B. Peveto and LaDonna G. Hollier, Shane R. Wilson and Autumn N. Seamann, James R. Venable and Christena M. Johnson, Anthony C. Kasko and Jennifer M. Gibson, Mark W. McNeil and Betty D. Buonomo, Gage B. Weldon and Jessica R. Stone, Elliott S. Perry III and Callie E. Terry, Daryl L. Johnson and Valerie M. LaCour, Cody J. Fontenot and Ashleigh Touchet, Bobby J. Turner and Leaundrea L. Simuel, Chaise M. Russell and Kaitlin D. Dewitt, Marshall C. Jones and Alyssa R. Ford, Brian B. Jemmott and Victorine M. Fotabong, Johnny H. Watson and Karla D. Crain, Jason M. Broussard and Christa L. Hunter, Tyler D. Hall and Amy D. Shivers, Randall P. Walvoord and Sharlett L. Reinke, Darren R. Craig and Chace R. Cannon, James J. Valdez and Pennie L. Hyde, Robert L. Villanueva and Jennifer L. Orta, Thomas E. Blacketer and Mellisa A. Bradshaw.

On September 1, 2014, the Deweyville Independent School District accelerated $800,000 in additional bond payments saving the district nearly $440,000 in interest over the next 12 years. The additional funds collected are a result of rising property values in the district beginning in 2011. The initial boost increased the debt service fund balance to $600,000 in 2012. After that year, the Board of Trustees executed a plan to accelerate the repayment of future bonds by setting a tax rate that enabled the district to collect an additional $200,000 each year. Still, the Board has been able to reduce the property tax burden to the property owners by four to five cents from the initial repayment projections. Following the initial sale of bonds in 2002 and 2003, property owners began repayment of the bonds with a tax rate around twenty-five cents per $100 valuation. For the 2014 tax year, the Board approved a rate for debt service of $0.2057 added to the Maintenance & Operations rate of $1.04 for a total of $1.2457. The Board will continue to monitor property values in the future to take advantage of additional savings for tax payers while still being conscious of the tax burden on property owners.  Sitting left it right: TJ Hardin, President; Doug Clark, VP. Standing L-R: Rodney Whitfield, Member; Sandra Blakeney, Secretary; Gary Brinson, Member. Not Pictured: Members Jimmy Lavergne and Debbie Burks.

Orangefield High School senior, Kristen Blanke, has been named as a semifinalist in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Orange police were called to the Jack in the Box restaurant on 16th Street Wednesday evening because a clerk had smoked PCP and was creating a disturbance. It was the second public intoxication case related to PCP in three days. Monday night, a man on PCP stripped naked in the middle of the street. In the past few months, public intoxication arrests involving the use of PCP has became almost as common as the public intoxication cases for alcoholic beverages. Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave with the Orange Police Department said trends of drugs come and go based on availability. Lately, PCP has been commonly sold among illegal drug dealers. more

Local Weather Radar

The City of Orange has almost completed the last steps for getting a railroad quiet zone. But the zone isn't quite ready. The Union Pacific Railroad will need to coordinate signals. Tuesday, Orange City Council approved buying an $82,000 wayside horn system for the Green Avenue (Old Highway 90) crossing. Public Works Director Jim Wolf said it will be the last big money spent for the city to get the quiet zone. A railroad quiet zone means that trains will not blow their horns at every crossing through the city. A group of neighbors in the Old Orange Historic District went before City Council in January 2011 to request a quiet zone. Other cities, including Beaumont and Sugar Land, have quiet zones. The wayside horn system will be triggered when a train approaches. A recording of a train horn will blare out to the sides facing vehicle traffic. The drivers on the roadway are supposed to hear the horns, but the sound will not carry the sounds across town. Wolf said he will let the railroad know the city has ordered the wayside horns. He doesn't know when the railroad will install the electrical system. The city has closed and blocked five crossings in the Historic District. At other crossings, the city installed reflective metal barriers between street lanes at several railroad crossings. The barriers prevent cars from weaving around down signal arms at other railroad crossings.

The Orange County Hotel Occupancy Tax Committee met on Wednesday, September 3, 2014 to review fourteen qualified applications for funding from the County’s Hotel Occupancy Tax fund.  The applications totaled $215,890.  The Committee, however, pared down the requested funds to a total of $75,400.  The Committee will hold a public hearing on Thursday, September 18th at the Orange County Commissioner’s Courtroom, 123 6th Street, Orange, Texas at 10:00 a.m.  The Committee will hear from the entities making application for the funds and from any interested party wishing to comment on the expenditure of the funds. Once the hearing is completed, the Committee will make a formal recommendation to the County Commissioner’s Court for expenditure of the funds.  The final decision for spending the funds will be made by the Commissioners at that time.  This funding cycle is for the 2013-2014 fiscal years.  more

"Buttons" is missing from the 1500 block of W Park Avenue. If you've seen Buttons please call Diane at 920-5506.

A 32-year-old Vidor man has been charged with felony assault for attempting to choke his wife. Precinct 1 Judge David Peck set a bond of $10,000 on Christopher Lee Glassey. Officer Jesus Loredo with the Vidor Police Department said he went to the 500 block of West Railroad Street Monday about a disturbance. In an affidavit of probable cause, Loredo said a woman came out of the woods and said her husband assaulted her. She said he choked her to the point she had a hard time breathing. In addition, she was kicked on her right side. Loredo said he saw red on her neck and some bruising to her back left arm. The woman, who turned 30 on Wednesday, let officers into the house. Loredo said Mr. Glassey was found hiding in the attic crawl space. The victim requested an Emergency Protective Order to stop retaliation.

Mrs. Pam Caswell, a Kindergarten teacher, attended an all day workshop called, Junior Master Gardener Teacher Leader Training. It was held at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at the County Facility on FM 1442. This workshop trained teachers to establish and maintain gardens to be used at the school to teach children how to garden, what and when to plant, what to do with the foods produced, etc. Each teacher was provided with a teaching manual that provides activity ideas to make gardening a fun and meaningful experience. The Orange County Master Gardener Association presented Orangefield Elementary with a $250 check to be used for gardening materials and supplies. Our Kindergarten students will be planting and maintaining a Fall garden very soon and a Spring garden later in the school year.

St. Mary Catholic School is proud to announce the 2014-2015 Art Club Officers. Pictured from right to left back row: Mrs. Cindy Claybar – Art Teacher; Carter Claybar – Treasurer; O’Shan Mitchell – President; Audrey Johnson – Historian; Sydney Schmitt – Chaplain; Jacob Anderson – Sargent at Arms; Front row: Amber Lester – Vice President; Lauren Abrego – Secretary; Mallory Huggins - Reporter

The City of Orange is cutting its funding to the Southeast Texas Arts Council by $31,163 this year. The city previously gave the arts council $50,000. The director of the arts group told City Council Tuesday that the arts group gives $30,000 of the city money to the Lutcher Theater for performances. Sue Bard said the Stark Foundation pays for the theater building and operations but not the performances.
The information came as the City Council held a public hearing on spending about $565,000 in hotel occupancy taxes paid by the people who stay in local hotels. Most of the money, $378,000, goes to support the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau.
State law restricts the ways the hotel tax can be used. The groups and activities must promote tourism or draw conventions. The categories include advertising for tourism and events, historical preservation and the arts.
City staff this year recommended giving the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce $40,000 for Mardi Gras and fishing tournaments, including the national Bass Masters tournament. City Councilman Tommy Ferguson said the 2013 Bass Masters tournament in Orange was the biggest event he has seen in Orange. He suggested the city give the chamber more money to support the tournament.
City Manager Shawn Oubre said the extra money would have to come out of the allocations to other groups or from the hotel tax savings fund balance. The savings is estimated to be $915,268 at this time. Oubre said the long-range goal for the savings is to restore City Hall, which is a 1920s Craftsman-style mansion.
After Ferguson's suggestion, City Council agreed to let city staff find a way to give the chamber more money for Bass Masters and come back to council for approval.
Other allocations for the tax money will be $75,000 for additions to Riverfront Pavilion, $30,000 to Heritage House Museum, $15,000 to Friends of the Orange Depot for preservation, $3,000 for the Gulf Coast Cajun Festival, and $2,500 to Orange Trade Days. The city will also give $2,500 to the Southeast Texas Arts Council's Off Ramp Magazine, which is distributed throughout the state to promote area-wide arts events, entertainment and historic sites. Orange previously gave the magazine $10,000. Cody Vasquez of Orange, who sits on the arts council board of directors spoke in favor of Southeast Texas Arts Council and pointed out that the group helps the Orange Community Players. Sandra Villadsen Cash of Orange, is also on the arts council board. She attended the meeting but did not speak during the public hearing.

West Orange – Cove CISD Superintendent James Colbert was the guest speaker at a luncheon of the Orange County Board of Realtors today. Colbert presented an update to the group on the current status of the District’s finances, enrollment, Qualified School Construction Bond, campus and department leadership, and academic scores and ratings. “I believe that the realtor group and our business community are critical partners in helping to progress our school district. I feel honored for the opportunity to share our challenges and successes,” Colbert said.

Renovations on the old Southern Printers building in downtown could start by early to mid-October, Economic Development Director Jay Trahan told Orange City Council Tuesday. The council and the separate Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors voted once more to invest $350,000 to develop the old building into loft apartments, plus a restaurant and shops. The agreement is with Orange native Michael Wray, a developer with Brazos Urban of Austin. Trahan told the council the city attorney and Wray have not finished the formal contract. The city is supposed to give the money in payments based on the amount of work completed. At the end of five years, Brazos Urban is to repay the city $75,000, which will make the city’s total investment $275,000. Councilman Bill Mello asked whether the city could have a lien on the project for the $75,000. Assistant City Attorney Andrew Culpepper said the primary commercial lender would have the lien on the building and would not allow a second lien. He said the terms of the contract will include what milestones the project has to reach before the city gives a payment. Mello said the city needs to make sure safeguards are in the agreement. The money for the project is coming from the city’s special economic development sales tax that was approved by voters in 2002. Use of the tax money is restricted under state law.

Look Left and "Cast Your Vote"

Orange is now using a uniformed, certified police officer for code enforcements on unkempt yards, dilapidated buildings and junk cars. City Manager Shawn Oubre told City Council this morning that he made the decision after the previous code enforcement officer retired. “We’re not changing how we do it but who is doing it,” Oubre said.
Planning Director Jimmie Lewis, who supervises code enforcement, said the change is working because more people are complying with the city's request to clean up their property after a police officer with a badge and gun visit.
However, Councilwoman Essie Bellfield said she thinks the city should not use a peace officer at a higher pay to do code enforcement that civilians can do. Oubre said the cost is about $22,000 a year more for the police officer, but the city is getting property cleaned. “He’s a policeman. He knows his work as a policeman and he’s paid as a policeman,” she said. She also said the city should have advertised the job vacancy because other people, including retirees, would want it.
The police chief has reassigned longtime officer John Dee Taylor to work code enforcement.
City Council in a 3-2 vote agreed to have the officer work in code enforcement for six months and then review the program. Council members Tommy Ferguson, Mary McKenna and Bill Mello voted to support the change. Bellfield and Councilman Larry Spears voted against the move. Councilwoman Theresa Beauchamp was absent.

The City of Orange and the Orange firefighters can't agree on a contract, but did agree not to declare an impasse for negotiations until Sept. 29. City management met Tuesday with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1432. The city is offering a 2 1/4 percent pay raise. Non-union city employees are getting a 2 percent raise. The firefighters want a 4 percent pay raise for the next three years. Firefighters' negotiator Louis Hebert said Orange firefighters are about $4,000 behind in salary for Nederland, Port Neches and Port Arthur, even though Orange personnel pay about $100 a month less for health insurance. Hebert said when the city gives 2 percent pay raises and other cities give 3 to 4 percent raises, Orange firefighters get farther behind in their pay compared to the nearby cities. The new budget year starts Oct. 1.

Orange Mayor Jimmy Sims presented keys to the city to Charles Guillory and the late Ben Culpepper for their work and dedication on the city's Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors. Both served on the board since it was started in 2002. Both also have served on the Orange City Council. Culpepper, who served several years as president of the board, passed away in May. His wife, Gloria Culpepper, and son, Andrew, accepted the ceremonial key.

What's happening around town?  Check the Happenings page!

Commissioners’ Court was split on determining salaries for elected officials that needed to be determined before the salaries are published.  Once published the salaries cannot be raised or lowered for the new budget which will be approved September 22.  The conflict involved the salary of Sheriff Keith Merritt, which is lower than three of his deputies in the Sheriff’s Office.  Commissioner David Dubose made a motion that the sheriff’s salary be raised two-steps to about $104,000 a year or the equivalent on the salary matrix of a 5-term sheriff.  The Court voted 3 to 2 against the motion, County Judge Carl Thibodeaux casting the deciding vote against the two-step raise.  Thibodeaux then made a motion for a 1-step raise to about $96,000 a year salary.  The court then voted 3-2 in favor of the motion with Judge Thibodeaux joining Commissioners Dubose and Owen Burton voting in favor.  Sheriff Merritt expressed his appreciation afterwards saying it has been a three year struggle, but he appreciates the decision of the court very much so.

The city council in West Orange approved its 2014-2015 budget Monday evening.  The city’s 3.4 million dollar budget includes a tax rate will be 42.5 cents per 100 dollars value, which pleased Mayor Roy McDonald.  The city has improved the benefits for the city’s employees, the city’s streets have been improved, equipment in the city has been updated and replaced where needed, and the tax rate remained the same, McDonald said he thinks it is a very good, equitable budget.  West Orange authorized the mayor signing the new South East Texas Regional Mutual Aid Agreement while rescinding prior mutual aid agreements which FEMA said it would not recognize.  Mayor McDonald happily announced West Orange was recognized again for the city’s staff outstanding record keeping procedures.  The Government Finance Officers Association presented West Orange with its seventeenth such commendation.  McDonald praised the City Secretary Theresa Van Meter and her staff for their superb effort.  The city also proclaimed September Global Pulmonary Fibrosis Month to encourage citizens to become informed and involved to fight to eradicate this serious disease.

Beginning in October janitorial services at the courthouse will be done by a contracted company. The Commissioners’ Court voted Monday 3 to 2 to contract with Members Building Maintenance to perform the janitorial service for the county. Commissioner Jody Crump has sought the use of contracted janitors for several months saying it will save the county the expense of paying salaries and benefits for county employees to do the work as well as the cost of supplies for the janitors. Crump estimated the county is currently spending over $319,000 for janitorial work each year. The bid from Members Building Maintenance is for $166,814 a year to do it. Commissioner David Dubose questioned Crump what will happen to the current eight county employees who perform janitorial work. Crump responded one will be kept as a floater to do various odd jobs, the others will have the opportunity to apply to be hired by Members Building Maintenance with no guarantee they will be hired. Dubose then said this might send the wrong message to other county employees that their jobs might be contracted out, to which Crump responded if it saves the county $112,000 we might have to look at that. When the vote was taken Commissioners Crump, John Banken, and Owen Burton voted in favor of the contract with Dubose and County Judge Carl Thibodeaux casting votes against it.

The City of Vidor will be hosting a Trash Off on Saturday, September 20 beginning at 7 am, at 155 Watts Street. Any resident of the City of Vidor or any residential customer of the City of Vidor sanitation department may use the roll-off dumpsters for free, with the exception of no contractors or commercial accounts. The normal rules for what is accepted at the City dumpsters apply so no hazardous waste such as motor oil, chemicals, paints, tires, etc. There will be a dumpster to collect metal recyclables and the limb yard will be open for yard debris. Due to the overwhelming response of the Trash Off in May, there will be a restriction of one visit per address. Anyone wanting to dump must show a proof of residency inside the incorporated city limits of the City of Vidor, such as a driver’s license. Residential customers living outside the city limits must bring a current City of Vidor sanitation bill. The dumpsters will stay open as long as there is room or until 3 pm, whichever comes first. Anyone wanting to use the dumpsters or limb yard that day should enter Watts Street from East Railroad Street, adjacent to the Vidor Police Department. For Saturday only, Watts Street will be a one way street, and the only traffic allowed will be those who are participating in the trash off. Volunteers from the Vidor Beautification Task Force and other groups will be directing traffic and assisting as needed. For more information, please contact Carrie Box, Sanitation Secretary, at 409-769-5473 ext. 132.

Texans have been focusing on the governor's race in the November 4 general election, but in Orange County different voters may think an alcoholic beverages wet-dry issue is the most important. Other local voters may find that a school bond issue is the drawing card to the voting boxes, or perhaps a special sales tax to finance firefighters.
Orange County Elections Administrator Tina Barrow said the county will have general election ballots for offices. People living in Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 will also decide on whether or not to sell beer, wine or alcoholic beverages. Two options will be on the general ballot for Precinct 2 to vote 'yes' or ‘no.’ One issue is for the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption only. The other issue is for the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages, including mixed beverages. Residents and businesses, particularly in the Mauriceville area, successfully had a petition drive to get the wet-dry decision on the ballot.
Barrow said the Bridge City ISD will have a bond election on November 4. The school district will have a separate ballot for the bond issue. Registered voters living in the Bridge City ISD will vote at their regular assigned county voting precincts. Barrow said the school district has eight locations. The Bridge City school board has approved a $25 million bond election to build a fine arts center with an auditorium and stage. The center will be used by the band, choir, drama department, art department and drill team. In addition, a number of athletic facilities improvements are proposed. Those include a new field house, a new concession stand, new baseball field lighting and covers for baseball and softball stands.
The Orange County Emergency Services District No. 1, which covers the Vidor area, will have an election to approve or reject a 1.5 percent sales tax to help support the district. Barrow said the sales tax issue will also be on a separate ballot. Registered voters in ESD No. 1 will to their usual county voting sites. The district has 11 sites.
A number of statewide offices will be on the ballot, along with one amendment to the state constitution. Orange County voters will also choose a new U.S. Representative to replace Steve Stockman in District 36. The contenders are Republican Brian Babin of Woodville and Democrat Michael K. Cole of Orange. For District 21 in the Texas House of Representatives, Republican Dade Phelan of Jefferson County will be running against Democrat Gavin Bruney. The incumbent, Allan Ritter, is not seeking re-election.
Several county offices will be up for election, with most of the candidates unopposed. Voters in two county precincts will have contested races for justice of the peace. In Precinct 1, incumbent David Peck, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Gail Shaw Barnett. In Precinct 3, incumbent Janice Menard, a Democrat, is facing Republican Joyce Dubose Simonton.
October 6 is the deadline to register for the November 4 elections. Early voting will start October 20 and end October 31.

2014 Atlantic Hurricane Names
Arthur
Bertha
Cristobal
Dolly
Edouard
Fay
Gonzalo
Hanna
Isaias
Josephine
Kyle
 
Laura
Marco
Nana
Omar
Paulette
Rene
Sally
Teddy
Vicky
Wilfred

 

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