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Look who we found driving through Orange Saturday!  Santa said he was mapping out a safe route for him and his reindeer, so they can visit the good little boys and girls for Christmas!
   
Congrats Mustangs on a Great Season!
WOS receives runner-up trophy in 4A D2 Title Game

28-year-old John Phillip Fuller Jr., a former teacher and coach at the private St. Mary School in Orange, was sentenced this morning to three 12-year terms in prison. He pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one count of improper relationship with a student. The three sentences will be served concurrently. Assistant District Attorney Tom Kelley said Fuller, under the law, will have to spend a minimum of six years in prison.
     St. Mary School is for students in pre-school through eighth grade. The father of the girl, who was once a student at the school, said police found more than 11,000 pages of communications between the teacher and the girl. He told Fuller that he had been "persistent and pervasive" in pursuing the girl.
     Fuller had more than two dozen family members and friends to support him at the hearing before 260th District Judge Buddie Hahn. They listened as the father of the girl give a victim's impact statement. He said he felt no anger toward the former teacher and he appealed for compassion to not make anything harder on his daughter.
     After learning about the sexual assault of their daughter, the parents divided their duties. The mother would be nurturing for the daughter and the father would "deal with the legal system." If the girl ever has a daughter, she won't be able to share her first love. "Her first love is a series of felonies committed against her," the father said.

A school bus from the Little Cypress-Mauriceville school district was involved in a wreck about 1pm Friday on Meeks Drive near the Greenway 2 subdivision. District Spokeswoman Sherry Combs said none of the seven students on the bus or the driver was injured. The students were taken to a safe building and their parents were notified. Some parents picked them up and the district's director of transportation delivered the others.

Marriage Licenses Issued By The Office of Karen Jo Vance, Orange County Clerk For the Week of December 15, 2014 through December 19, 2014. Michael P. Thompson and Melissa M. Calais, Shane T. Stankus and Mary V. Nguyen, Milton M. Biggs Jr. and Brianna R. Dorsey, Michael T. Lee and Erica N. Lee, Joseph E. Turner and Myosha R. Roach, Philip L. Phelps and Julia A. Rosenberg, Jeffery D. Mulvaney and Scherrie E. Wiebe, Robert D. Freed and Crystal L. Thomas, Van A. Croft and Betti B. Boudreaux, James A. Reed and Patricia A. Williams.

On Friday, December 19, 2014, about 9:13a.m., Officers of the Vidor Police Department were dispatched to 855 Lian Street, Vidor in reference to Unauthorized Use of a Motor-Vehicle and Theft. Upon their arrival they met with the homeowners who wanted to report their 2010 GMC Acadia SL, displaying Texas license plates L1A3DV as stolen along with a "Kindle Fire" tablet and a red older model cell phone. According to the homeowners, a white male rang their doorbell about 6:00a.m., stating he was a "bounty hunter" and was wearing a dark colored ball cap, a black tactical vest, baggy black and white pants. The "bounty hunter" asked if he could search the area behind the homeowner’s residence. The homeowners stated there was a second male subject who went to the backyard area. The second male was described as "possibly being Hispanic", having dark hair and facial hair wearing a white shirt or jacket and blue jeans. After a while, one of the suspects appeared at the back kitchen door with a white female claiming to be their prisoner. The female was on her knees with a "tazer" to her head being threatened to be shot again with it. The suspects entered the home and the female prisoner was layed on the kitchen floor. Later, when the female prisoner was stood up from the floor, a .45 caliber "Army type" weapon was underneath her. The suspects placed the female in the vehicle. The home owners were instructed to stay inside and away from the windows for about an hour in case things got bad. This is when all three suspects left in GMC Acadia. The white female prisoner is believed to be a suspect and involved in the Theft and is described as being heavy set, having black hair and wearing blue jeans and a black hoodie. It was then the home owners realized their vehicle was missing, along with their "Kindle Fire" tablet, and a red cell phone. “We ask all our citizens to be vigilant this holiday season, call the police department when strangers appear at their front door asking for assistance. Do not let strangers enter your residence, always be safe and call the police department,” said Chief of Police Dave Shows.

A woman died in a two-vehicle crash Thursday afternoon as she was going to work at a Simmons Drive business. The collision was about 3:40 p.m. at the Bayou Patio Club in the 2200 block of Simmons. Orange Police Lt. J.E. Davis said the woman was driving a 1999 Ford sedan and was hit in the side by a 2008 four-door Dodge pickup truck. The driver of the truck was not injured. The woman had been traveling south on Simmons Drive with the pickup truck going northbound. The woman made a U-turn to go into the parking lot of the Bayou Patio Club and the pickup truck slammed into the side of the sedan. Lt. Davis said first responders had to use the Jaws of Life to get the woman out of the car. She was taken to Baptist Hospital Orange where she was pronounced dead.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is looking for two armed robbers who struck a convenience store in Little Cypress Thursday night. Chief Deputy Clint Hodgkinson said the LCM Food Mart in the 8200 block of North Highway 87 was robbed about 10:50 last night. Two men wearing masks got money from the register. One man had a pistol and the other had a baseball bat. After stealing the cash, they ran away. Deputies searched the area but did not find any suspects. The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information about the robbery should contact deputies at 883-2612.

Part beagle mix black and white med size dog missing from the Kinard Estates area in Little Cypress. Her name is Rosie. She's been microchipped and spayed and was wearing a camouflage collar. Rosie takes a daily medication. Please call Lindley Greene or Tanya Greene @ 317-446-1944 or 317-908-0041 $100 reward.

Only two food businesses received perfect health inspection scores during the first part of December. Mold in ice machines, dead and live roaches and food at unsafe temperatures hurt several of the restaurants and stores. Orange County Health Inspector went to 16 businesses with one getting a pre-opening inspection. The two perfect scores were for the Texas Gumbo Hut on Western Avenue in West Orange and Circle K Kiddie Ranch on Highway 62 South. The lowest score was a 65 at the Happy Donuts, 1081 North Main Street in Vidor. Scales reported "store in very poor shape."  For inspections and demerits click here.

Bridge City Middle School's National Junior Honor Society and Student Council and student body collected 1932 food items for the Salvation Army this year, surpassing last year's total by an 500 items.

Demolition of 12 structures in West Orange will be done after the City Council approved a contract Wednesday evening to have them torn down. Clean Air Remediation Environmental Service had the low bid of $95,453 to do the job. West Orange Mayor Roy McDonald says this will clear away the first 12 of several properties condemned by the city. These properties have all been approved for demolition and the paperwork is complete on them. Lead and any other hazardous components have been removed from these structures to be able to proceed with demolition. McDonald said, “That process is well underway and I hope that they’re on the ground working pretty quickly.” The company INVISTA with offices in West Orange made a $5,000 donation to assist the West Orange Volunteer Fire Department. Ashley Baker and Kelsey Bounds in the Human Resources Department at INVISTA presented the mayor and Fire Chief Dean Fuller a large facsimile of the check. Mayor McDonald was very thankful for the donation from INVISTA which he added will help meet the needs of the volunteer fire department in the city. The City Council approved a city ordinance which repeals three existing city ordinances dealing with the sale of alcohol in West Orange. McDonald explains the need for the new ordinance was to get the city’s ordinance in line with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code which over rides all city ordinances in Texas. McDonald stated, “We are now in line with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code concerning the sale of alcohol within our city.” All non-emergency offices of the city will be closed next Wednesday and Thursday in observance of the Christmas holiday. Friday garbage pickup will be moved to Saturday.

Lamar State College-Orange conferred more than 215 degrees, certificates and institutional awards at the Fall 2014 Commencement ceremony on December 12th at the Lutcher Theater.

Eight graduates of Lamar State College-Orange graduated with the designation of summa cum laude, with “highest honors.”  Summa cum laude designation includes those students with grade point averages of 3.8 to 4.0.  The students with this designation were Shelly Michelle Smith, Orange;        Hunter Aaron Anderson, Vidor; Victoria Kathleen Elliott, Orange; Krissi Leigh Rickert, Orange; John Paul Patronell, Orange; Renee’ Laverne Clark, Buna; Gina Kay Gross, Orange; and Brittany Heather Sheldon, Nederland. more

Consumers were spending their money across Orange County in November as sales tax returns stayed strong. Nearly all of the cities along with the county have increases in sales tax receipts for the year-to-date. The Texas Comptroller's Officer reports that these amounts were sent to entities in Orange County:
Orange County: $373,458 for the month of November. The county's returns for the year so far are $4.66 million, a 5.8 percent increase from the same time last year.
Bridge City: $111,437 for the month. The city is at $1.36 million for the year, up about 8.8 percent from last year.
Orange: $270,279 for the month. The city has $3.63 million for the year, an increase of 7.4 percent.
Pinehurst: $48,476 for the month. The city so far this year has $670,817, a decrease of 2.63 percent.
Vidor: $208,576 for the month. The city has $2.54 million for the year, an increase of 7.1 percent.
West Orange: $86,516 for the month. The city's returns for the year are $1.07 million, an increase of 6.86 percent.
Orange County Emergency Services District No. 3 (Little Cypress fire and rescue): $54,424 for the month and $474,166 for the year to date.

Thousands of children and adults in Southeast Texas are hungry and in desperate need of food. During this time, it takes the community pulling together to help feed the hungry. Orange Rotary Club collected over 150 pounds of food this holiday season and made their donation to the Southeast Texas Food Bank. By joining others in the fight against hunger, Orange Rotary Club made a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

The home of Deana and Harry Wood at the corner of 5th Street and Orange Avenue was selected by the Keep Orange County Beautiful Committee to receive the Quarterly Residential Beautification Award. The home, previously owned by Mrs. Nelda Stark, was selected because the owners are so diligent in keeping up the landscaping and the home in general. Lovely trees and plants provide a rich setting for this historic house. At present it is decorated beautifully for the holidays with holiday pillows on the white wicker furniture on the front porch. The owner says it is a tradition that her granddaughter decorates the wrought-iron fence with garland and red bows for Christmas. Another noticeable feature of the home is the flickering candles that are always seen in the windows. The owner chose to purchase this house because of its “homey” atmosphere, much like the home in which she was raised. This award is given quarterly to homes and businesses in Orange County for taking pride in their community by making it a more beautiful place to live.

The West Orange-Cove CISD will not have an interim superintendent until after the Christmas-New Year's holidays. The WO-C school board on Monday met for the third week in a row to vote for the interim position. After meeting in a closed-door executive session for about 30 minutes, the board returned and no one made a motion to name an individual for the interim spot. On December 1, a proposal to make Assistant Superintendent Dr. Silvia Martinez failed in a split vote. A week later, on December 8, a proposal to make former Beaumont ISD superintendent Dr. Timothy Chargois failed in a split vote. Only about a dozen citizens attended Monday's meeting, a big difference than the week before.
The split in the board was evident once again during a discussion of a calendar timeline for hiring a permanent superintendent. Board President Pete Amy's proposal of a calendar for applications and interview has a goal of having a new superintendent starting work April 1. However, Trustee Bryan "Chop" Thomas Muhammad said a competent interim could carry the school district through the spring semester. He suggested starting the process back to May 18 and hire someone in June.
Amy then said he was going to "ask a candid question." He wanted to know if Muhammad was waiting until after the May school board election to see if new trustees would choose the superintendent. Muhammad asked back "Are you pushing to have the process because of the election?" Amy's seat will be up for election in 2015 along with the position held by Eric Mitchell. In addition, Nathaniel Colbert was elected for an unexpired term and he will have to run in 2015.
Muhammad made a motion not to pass Amy's calendar for the hiring process. Colbert voted with Muhammad. The Rev. Hardy O'Neal, who in previous weeks has voted the same as Muhammad and Colbert, was absent. After that motion failed, Amy, along with Trustees Mitchell, Sarah Jefferson-Simon and Ruth Hancock voted to adopt Amy's calendar.
The superintendent's position is vacant because James Colbert resigned to become the superintendent of the Harris County Department of Education in Houston.
Students, faculty and staff in the West Orange-Cove school district will get an early holiday because of the state championship football game Friday. The school board Monday agreed to change the calendar to have an early release day for classes on Thursday. Friday will be a holiday. The day will be made up later in the year. The West Orange-Stark High Mustangs play for the state football championship Friday at noon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Pregame on KOGT at 11:45am.

Orange County Sheriff's Office Calls Dec. 10-16

The City Council meeting Tuesday evening in Bridge City was touched with a bit of remorse as the council accepted the letter of resignation of longtime municipal judge Don Peters because of illness. Mayor Kirk Roccaforte spoke for the whole council in thanking Judge Peters for his many years of service. Roccaforte said, “I certainly appreciate it, and I feel everyone else does also.” The main order of business was appointing a new Associate Municipal Judge, and Ida Schossow the president of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce was appointed to the position. Schossow accepted the appointment, “I’m looking forward to working with Bridge City and with the court and I’m just excited about taking on the challenge.” Schossow admitted there are some big shoes to fill replacing Don Peters. She will need some training, but does have many years experience in management and is a retired banker. Schossow added, “Fill the shoes of Judge Peters, I can’t do that, I can just hope to do half as good as he has done.” The City Council reappointed Jimmy Scales as the Municipal Judge who will work with Schossow to get her trained for her new responsibilities. Paul Fukuda was reappointed as city attorney and Sherry Tisdale was reappointed as city secretary. All the positions are for 2 years beginning the first of the year. The city council also heard a report about the recent fiscal year audit of the city from Keri Michutka who performed the audit. The council accepted the bid for a trust property at 150 Crepe Myrtle which gives Bridge City $605 in back taxes and puts the property back on the tax roll for future years.

Essie Bellfield, City of Orange, Council Member - District 3, received the Honorary Membership Award by the International Executive Housekeeping Association (IEHA) at the 48th Conference in Orlando, Florida. The IEHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping facility managers maintain cleaner, safer, and healthier buildings. Ms. Bellfield was awarded this Award for her “notable contributions to the cleaning industry and as a leader in cleaning science by protecting the health of building occupants while raising the value of cleaning operations.” Ms. Bellfield was first elected to City Council in 1994. Since then, she has served several terms and as Mayor from 1997 - 2000.
   
West Orange - Stark Middle School recently raised over $1000 in a penny drive for the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. First period classes competed against one another. Students in Cornelius' Cooper first period class raised over $200 and were recognized as Silver Champions (group picture). Students in Kathleen Rogers' first period class received Bronze Champion recognition for raising close to $200. 
   
The Orangefield High School Freshman Academy held a 3 day competition to raise money for the American Cancer Society. In the "Quarters For Cancer" competition, the freshman class raised a total of $82.25 in quarters. Mrs. Gravett's 2nd period English class won the competition, raising $60.75 of the total amount. All proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society on behalf of the ORANGEFIELD ISD Relay For Life team.

The ATF and the Houston Police Department Gang Task Force are now working with the Orange Police Department to help find three men from Houston who shot up a house in Orange. The residents of the house had a large assortment of illegal drugs.
A fourth man riding with the other three died during an invasion Friday night on Ridgemont Drive. Orange Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave said the man had a prison record and was covered in gang tattoos.
A man living at the house is in critical condition with more than a dozen gunshot wounds. Two women, a mother and daughter, living at the house have been arrested on several charges. Police found a seven-pound brick of marijuana along with numerous baggies of the substance. Other drugs found included hundreds of prescription pills and PCP.
Captain Hargrave said investigators are trying to determine why men from Houston would drive more than 100 miles to attack a house in Orange.
The house invasion was about 10 p.m. Friday at 3733 Ridgemont Drive. Four men drove up in a white, four-door, full-sized pickup truck. They were armed with pistols and a military assault-style rifle. One of the men rammed the front door open with his shoulder. The occupants also had guns and a shoot-out ensued. 35-year-old Francisco Sanchez of Houston managed to get outside and he died in the yard. The other three in the pickup truck left.
31-year-old Brian Gant, who lives at the house, was taken by ambulance to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont in critical condition.
35-year-old Kenyatta Walker (left) and her 21-year-old daughter, Tymecia Walker, have been charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of more than five pounds of marijuana. Kenyatta was also charged with felon in possession of a firearm and tampering with evidence. She has been released from the Orange County Jail on a total of $100,000 bond.

The Orange Police Department investigated two residential burglaries and the burglary of a vehicle during the past three days. A woman living in the 1300 block of First Street reported a break-in at 11:46 a.m. She told police she had been at work when her godson called her because he had discovered that the back door was open. The woman said someone had gotten inside and ransacked the house. The woman reported more than $1,600 in cash and items were taken including a .9 mm Smith and Wesson pistol, Playstation 4 and a 37-inch TV. The other burglary was at an apartment at 3333 Ridgemont Drive. The resident reported the theft at 8:29 a.m. Saturday. A microwave oven, pots, pans and food were missing. A vehicle parked in the lot of a business at 400 16th Street had money stolen. The burglary was reported at 12:48 p.m. Saturday.

Cheryl Royal, Director of Student Activities for Bridge City ISD, received the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Month Award for December 2014. Cheryl has been married for almost 25 years to Keith Royal, Pastor of Winfree Baptist Church and has 3 children – Kelly, Jordan and Tanner all BCHS graduates. Cheryl graduated from Texas State University in 1990. Her first career was stay-at-home mom for 10 years before going to work for BCISD as a US History/Psychology Teacher. Five years ago Cheryl became Director of Student Activities and Leadership Teacher as well as Student Council Advisor which has over 275 members this 2014-2015 school year. Cheryl said, “I am absolutely certain that I have the BEST job in the state of Texas because of the incredible students and faculty/staff that I get to work with every day. The best part is seeing students develop into their leadership potential and discovering who they were created to be.” Cheryl was presented her award, sponsored by Sabine River Ford, by Kelly Zoch – BCHS Student Body President and Kellyn Cormier – BCHS Student Body Vice President at the December Monthly Networking Coffee hosted by Bridge City ISD. Cheryl also received gifts from the following businesses: Little Caesars, Total Impressions Salon, Dupuis Tire, Geaux Mail, The Record Newspaper, Tiger Rock Martial Arts, Michele Michelle Day Spa, Dairy Queen, Sabine Federal Credit Union and Mary Kelone, LMT, NCBTMT.

Several tourism sponsors in Orange County will be getting checks in the next week from the County Auditor.  The Commissioners Court headed by County Judge Pro Tem David Dubose voted unanimously Monday on awarding Hotel Occupancy Tax funds to seven applicants for the HOT funds that had been approved by County Auditor Mary Johnson who was wanting to pay all the HOT funds checks at the same time, but there are a couple of applicants for the funds that did not have their proper paperwork.  Monday’s action will at least pay those applicants that are incompliance which has the president of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce Ida Schossow happy for them.  Schossow said, “I think it’s great that these entities are going to be getting their money back, and it’s a great way to bring tourism into our town so I think it’s good that it was all clarified.”  The Orange County Jail’s inspection by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards was received by commissioners Monday.  The inspection report done on December 5 noted the excellent work of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and stated it demonstrates the outstanding leadership of Sheriff Keith Merritt and the diligent work of the jail’s staff.  Sheriff Merritt expressed his appreciation for the outstanding performance by his staff reminding again that the inspections come unannounced thus requiring the jail to be ready for inspection year round.  Merritt also thanked the Commissioners, “A lot of the credit goes to the commissioners also for making sure the budgetary support is there to support the jail and what we do.”  The sheriff thinks it is important to note Orange County does not have problems with overcrowding or structural problems with the jail like many counties in the state.  Merritt said this was actually the second inspection of the jail by the commission this year which is unusual.  The previous inspection was done in March, and Merritt added the jail passed with flying colors that time also.

   
Saturday night the 2014 OHS Winter Formal King and Queen were crowned. Pictured is King, Chase Slaughter, and Queen, Kristen Blanke.

The Bobcats, like most area schools, will have an Early Release Day Friday for the start of the Christmas Break.

Christmas!  "Cast Your Vote" in this weeks poll

Boil Water Rescind Notice - On 12/11/14, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) required our public water system Mauriceville M.U.D., PWS ID 1810144 to issue a Boil Water Notice (BWN) to inform our customers that due to the presence of contaminants or an interruption in service, water from our system must be boiled prior to consumption for all of its customers from Saxon Circle to Meadowlark Road, this includes all roads between Saxon and Meadowlark. . Our system has taken the necessary corrective actions to restore adequate pressure. Disinfectant levels, and/or bacteriological quality and has provided (TECQ) with testing results that indicate that the water no longer requires boiling as of 12/13/14.

The Orangefield Cajun Country Christmas Parade and Festival was held Saturday.  You can see more photos in the KOGT Photo Gallery.

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

The Orange Housing Authority is boosting the local economy in 2014 with new construction of three separate apartment complexes. In November, the City of Orange issued two permits totaling $9.7 million on two of the complexes. ITex Construction received a permit for $4.2 million worth of work at 2540 W. Park Avenue, the former Pine Grove site. The same company got a permit for $5.2 million of construction at 2500 Allie Payne Road, the Velma Jeter complex. ITexas paid a total fee of $31,080 for the two permits.  Also during the month, the housing authority took out a permit for a $107,000 fire sprinkler system at the Sikes Road apartments that have been under construction since July. That complex is valued at $3.57 million.

Another apartment complex also received a building permit in November. The Fox Run Apartments at 2600 Allie Payne Road is doing $30,000 worth of remodeling work to convert a four-bedroom apartment into a handicap unit.

Two permits were issued for residential storage buildings worth a total of $5,300. Two houses on West Cherry Avenue in the Old Orange Historic District having remodeling projects totaling $27,000. The city issued one permit for a residential fence worth $1,952. Four houses have permits for residential mechanical work for heating and air-conditioning systems.  The total value was $16,931.

Two houses are getting swimming pools. A permit for a $33,685 pool was issued for a residence on Chasse Stone. A house on Hillbrook Drive is getting a $35,000 lap pool.

The deal between the City of Orange and private developer Brazos Urban for the renovation of the old Southern Printers Building is now dead. Tuesday morning the Orange City Council and the board of the city Economic Development Corporation voted to end all negotiations with Brazos Urban and Michael Wray. The council and board met in closed-door executive session for more than an hour to discuss the real estate deal. "The city has spent many months in negotiations with Mr. Wray and just could not get to the point where we could resolve all the issues," City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre said after the meeting. In a phone interview later in the morning, Wray, an Orange native who lives in Austin, said the city killed its own deal because of a new requirement. He said the city lately asked for a deed of trust, which had never been discussed before during 11 months of negotiations. According to Wray, a deed of trust is never needed in similar projects. In October, the city and Wray reached an agreement for Brazos Urban to receive $350,000 in special economic development money for the project. The Southern Printers Building is on Fifth Street near the city's board walk and Riverfront Pavilion. The plans were to turn the upstairs of the building into six loft-style apartments. The downstairs would become a restaurant, coffee lounge and shops. Brazos Urban would eventually repay $50,000. The city would pay the financial incentives in increments based on the amount of work that had been completed. Wray said he is still interested in developments in the area, but he mentioned Orangefield and Lake Charles as good possibilities. He did not mention Orange. After the meeting, City Councilmember Larry Spears Jr. said he hopes that the end of the Brazos Urban deal does not discourage other developers from downtown Orange.

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