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John and Glynis Gothia of Krewe du Bayou were crowned King and Queen of the 2015 Orange Mardi Gras Grande Ball held Saturday at the Orange County Expo Center.  Stay tuned for more photos.

Filing begins Wednesday to run for city councils and some of the school boards in Orange County. Incumbent council members in Bridge City and Orange have reached term limits in their cities and will not be able to run for re-election this year. In Orange, the single-member district No. 1 spot will be vacant because Theresa Adams Beauchamp has served her limit on terms. Orange is the only city in the county with single-member districts. To run for the position, a person must live within the district, which is generally the west side of Orange. Only people who live in the district may vote for the council member. The mayor's seat, currently held by Jimmy Sims, is also up for election this year. Every resident in the city may vote for the mayor. Bridge City council members Kevin Mott in Place 1 and Robert Simonton Jr. in Place 3 have served their term limits and will not be able to run. The other position open this year is for Place 5 now held by Richard Savoy. iling will end on Friday, February 27 and the election will be Saturday, May 9. Filing is conducted during regular business hours of the entity through the city secretary's office or the office of the school superintendent. Early voting will run April 27 through May 5.

Other positions open this year: Pinehurst City Council: At-large positions now held by Dan Barclay, Dan Mohon and Matt Chandler. Pinehurst does not have term limits.
West Orange City Council: Mayor Roy McDonald and at-large seats held by Mike Trahan and Charles "Chuck" Winter. West Orange does not have term limits.
West Orange-Cove CISD: At-large positions three-year terms are now held by Pete Amy and Eric Mitchell. Nathaniel Colbert was appointed by the school board in July to serve the unexpired term of Mary Kirksey. That unexpired term will also be up for election.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD: Position 2 held by David Jones, Position 4 held by Tammy Rountree and Position 5 held b Don Anderson.
Bridge City ISD: Place 1 held by Lon Hubbard and Place 2 held by Kirk Ellender.
Orangefield and Deweyville school districts have board of trustee elections in November.

Local Weather Radar

West Orange businesswoman Glenda Kinder has passed away at the age of 63. She owned and operated Glenda's Bake-a-Cake for nearly 39 years. Through the years she baked and decorated cakes, cupcakes and cookies for all kinds of occasions from birthdays to weddings, anniversaries and baby showers. She was a self-taught baker and her first shop was a little building next to her house on Austin Street. In 1990, she opened a bakery at 3300 Western Avenue in a professional building behind her residence. The shop has remained at the same address ever since. No arrangements have been announced at this time.

Marriage Licenses Issued By The Office of Brandy Robertson, Orange County Clerk For the Week of January 19, 2015 through January 23, 2015. Jesse L. Gardner and Measie M. Thibodeaux, Jeffrey R. Grant and Sarah E. Miller, Joseph P. Mason and Marilyn J. Morvent, Michael R. Ferrell and Bryanna E. McFarland, Joseph M. Powell and Fanci L. Thompson, Van J. Smith and Debra K. Wilburn, Carl D. Graham and Bonnie M. Meehan.

The West Orange-Cove school board will begin reviewing applications for superintendent on Monday. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the Education Service Center, 902 W. Park. The board will go into a closed-door executive session to discuss the applicants. The deadline for applying for the job was January 16. The board's timeline includes naming a lone finalist for the job in early March with the new superintendent to begin at the first of April. Monday's agenda includes a discussion, and possible action, for the contract of interim superintendent Dr. Silvia Martinez. The discussion is allowed in a closed-door session but any action must be made in public.

The January 26th meeting of the West Orange City Council has been cancelled. Their next meeting has been scheduled for Monday, February 9, 2015 beginning at 5:30 p.m. The agenda for this meeting will be posted on Friday prior to the meeting.

Orange firefighters kept an apartment fire contained early Thursday morning to keep the damage minimal. The apartment was vacant and no one had to be evacuated. The fire was reported at 2:20 a.m. at the Autumn Oaks Apartments, 3333 Ridgemont Drive. Deputy Fire Chief Lee Ann Brown said the apartment had previously had a fire and was being remodeled. The Thursday morning fire started in a small hallway closet and firefighters kept most of the damage to the area. Brown said the drywall in the apartment had slight smoke damage.

An accident between these two vehicles occurred on FM1130 near Ben Mac Rd. Thursday morning at 7am.  Two were transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
 
American Airboat in Orange has sent several craft to Montana to help clean a 50,000 gallon oil spill in the Yellowstone River. Airboat crews are helping clean-up teams along the frozen river near Glendive, Montana. "Airboats are able to go right across ice, snow, mud or water," said Faron Floyd, vice president of the business off Interstate 10. The company sent the airboats to Montana and anytime a boat is sent to work, an experienced driver from American Airboat goes with it, he said. The company has sent 16-foot long Air Ranger craft with over 800 horse power.
   
Teachers and students at Little Cypress Intermediate School were greeted Wednesday morning with a bat flying up and down the hallway. Principal Michael Ridout said they were able to capture the winged intruder and released it outside. Before long about a dozen more bats were spotted in the gym and especially in the school’s library. Ridout indicated they found a small opening in a window frame where the bats were apparently getting into the building. A total of 24 bats were caught and put in a small aquarium. The students asked many questions about the bats according to the principal, and the incident served as an impromptu science lesson. Ridout hopes to transfer the bats to the Shangri La Botanical Gardens where they have a bat enclosure much more suitable for the bats than the school’s library.

People in the West Orange-Cove school district are looking for a superman or superwoman for superintendent. Monday evening, about 30 people attended at some time in a public comment session for traits a new superintendent should have. Ella Barlow, a parent of students, may have summed up the general feeling by saying "It's not about us, it's about our children and we want them to make their dreams come true." Leslie Barras, a homeowner in the district, said "I think she or he needs to have high integrity and be completely beyond reproach." The superintendent should be a good business manager with taxpayers' money and a good personnel manager with staff and teachers. After a list of traits, she added "I think I just described the hardest job on the planet."  more

A Houston man has been charged with capital murder in connection with the January 6 shooting death of a 27-year-old man from Mauriceville who was living in Beaumont. Beaumont police reported that 27-year-old Derrick Allen Phillips was killed in his house in the 1300 block of Central Drive. His roommate called 911 when he woke up from a nap at 4:42 p.m. and found Phillips unresponsive and bleeding. An autopsy showed Phillips, originally from Mauriceville, had been shot in the head. On Tuesday, U.S. Marshals arrested 33-year-old Adam Emanuel Fuller in a Kemah hotel on a theft warrant from Jefferson County along with a parole violation. He was brought back to Jefferson County Jail. Bond on the capital murder charge has been set at $1 million. The bond on the felony theft charge is $150,000. No bond is allowed on a parole violation.

Orange's Art in the Park will return to Stark Park this year because of the Bassmaster Elite tournament. City of Orange Economic Director Jay Trahan said an agreement with the Stark Foundation has been signed for the event to be at the park on Green Avenue. The foundation will tie in activities at the Stark Museum of Art and the Stark House on Saturday March 21 during the festival. The Stark Cultural Venues is presenting the Bassmaster Elite Sabine River Challenge in Orange from March 19 through March 22. The City of Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsors the annual Art in the Park festival. The festival was moved to the city's new Riverfront Pavilion in 2014. Citizens circulated petitions to move the event back to Stark Park. Trahan said the festival will go back to the Riverfront Pavilion next year. Art in the Park will also have live entertainment. Bassmaster events will be held at the city's Boat Ramp off Simmons Drive. The Bassmaster Elite Sabine River Challenge was held in 2013 with a carnival and performance stage at the Boat Ramp. The Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce reports that big-name country stars will perform on the grounds at the Boat Ramp. Dustin Lynch will play Thursday night and Tracy Byrd will perform on Saturday night. The Lutcher Theater in downtown will have a laser show on Friday night.

The Commissioners Court met Tuesday without County Judge Brint Carlton who was handling Air Force Reserve duties.  The judge’s absence resulted in a true split vote as the commissioners were divided on allowing the Assistant County Auditor to attend training in Lubbock.  County Auditor Mary Johnson requested the unbudgeted training for her assistant so she could be trained in software which only Johnson is adept at using and also for the assistant to learn how to be a report writer.  Commissioners David Dubose and Barry Burton voted to allow the travel costs which amounted to about $700.  Commissioners John Banken and Jody Crump were against it.  Assistant County Attorney Doug Manning was asked what the result is if a vote is split.  Manning replied, “If it’s a tie vote, it does not pass.”  The commissioners did approve travel for County Judge Carlton and for Risk Management Coordinator Missy Pillsbury to attend training conferences which were both budgeted items.  Commissioners approved the Sheriff’s Office to purchase a new EKG Machine and a rapid response Urinalysis Analyzer, both valued at over $500.  Sheriff Keith Merritt did request that the purchase of three heavy duty chairs be removed from his list of capital outlay purchases.  Merritt will request the purchase of three less expensive chairs which are under $500 each the capital outlay minimum at next week’s Commissioners Court meeting.
Reading tax statements are seldom fun.  Not getting a tax statement for over a decade and then getting one can really be a pain.  Vidor businessman Gary Biehslich has been charged over $800 in penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees associated with property that he did not get a tax statement from 1998 to 2013.  Biehslich says he does not mind paying the tax on the property and is only asking the Commissioners Court to waive the penalty and interest he is being charged since the Appraisal District has admitted it was their fault he did not get a statement.  Attorney Steve Bird with the Orange County Taxing Jurisdictions says the tax laws read the tax payer is responsible for keeping up with their property and the maximum time that could be waived is up to 181 days.  Commissioner John Banken requested the court table the decision at least until next week.  Banken admitted he was confused by the situation, was not comfortable making a decision until hearing more from the county’s attorney, and for fairness to the citizen asked for further study on the matter.  The commissioners unanimously approved tabling the item until their next meeting.

Orange Fire Chief David Frenzel said the two employees at the city's animal shelter have been disciplined for not following the city's policy regarding keeping stray animals for at least 72 hours. On December 23, the city picked up a mother dog and 11 puppies after a property owner had complained about them being under a building, he said. The employees at the animal shelter made a joint decision to euthanize the mother and litter about two hours after they were picked up. The owners came looking for the dogs about four hours after they were picked up. Frenzel, who supervises the animal shelter, said he has been over the animal shelter for 20 years and this is the first time something like this has happened. He said the two animal shelter workers are compassionate for animals and they made a joint decision for the mother and pups. The two employees still have their jobs but were disciplined with a record of the incident in their personnel records.

Albino squirrels are rare in our area but here's one in the Little Cypress area taking advantage of the beautiful day.  Photo by Ralf Mims of 20/20 Photography

A 29-year-old man from Orange was seriously injured early Saturday morning in a crash on 16th Street between a pickup truck and an 18-wheel truck rig. Orange Police Lieutenant G.D. Keaton reported that Andrew Riedel was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital by Acadian Ambulance Service with incapacitating injuries. Riedel was driving a Silverado pickup truck that collided with the back of the truck rig, which was stopped at a traffic light. The accident was about 3:30 a.m. Saturday in the 3700 block of 16th Street at Interstate 10. The driver of the truck rig, 44-year-old Timothy Williams of Buna, was also taken by Acadian to St. Elizabeth. The police report described his injuries as non-incapacitating. According to Lieutenant Keaton, the truck rig was traveling southbound on 16th Street and was stopped at the light. The Silverado was traveling southbound and ran into the back of the rig. The collision knocked the truck rig across the intersection into a grassy area.

A pit bulldog named Judge was stolen from the back yard of a house in Roselawn and was one of three thefts, a house burglary, a car burglary and a strong-arm robbery that were reported to Orange police during the long holiday weekend. The owners of the dog called police at 1:17 a.m. Monday after returning home to the 500 block of Hydrangea Street to find that the chain-link fence gate had been broken and the black dog was stolen The strong-arm robbery happened Friday night at 6:19. A woman said she was walking near 10th Street and Burton Avenue. A man in a small black car drove up, got out and pushed her into a ditch. He stole her iPhone and drove away. A woman at 1 a.m. Sunday had a digital camera stolen from DJ's at 2200 Simmons Drive. Police reported she invited someone to her table. She got up to get food and came back a few minutes later and the camera was gone. A man staying at the Hampton Inn on Interstate 10 called police at 9:24 a.m. Sunday to report that someone broke his driver's side window and stole a radar detector inside his truck. On Sunday night at 11:22 p.m. a burglary was reported at a house in the 1000 block of Clairmont Drive. A bedroom window had been broken and an Xbox game system and wireless controllers were stolen. Then on Monday at noon, a man living at the apartments at 3819 Meeks Drive reported two wheels, one from a Toyota and one from a Volkswagen, along with two gas cans full of gas were taken from the back of his pickup truck.

Orangefield Superintendent Dr. Stephen Patterson said the Bobcat campuses were put on lockdown for about an hour Tuesday morning after someone called Orange Police while driving down Hwy. 105 near the area of the schools, claiming they saw a suspicious man walking with what appeared to be a gun.  Patterson said authorities searched the area and did not find anyone.  The lockdown was lifted but authorities will be patrolling the property until school is over.

Bridge City High School Honor Roll for third six weeks

Alex Borel, a member of the LCM Battlin’ Bear Band will perform with the Texas All-State Band in San Antonio, Saturday, February 14, 2015 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center as part of the 2015 Texas Music Educators Association Clinic/Convention. He was chosen for this prestigious honor through a competitive process held this year across the state at District, Region, and Area levels. Alex is a student of Michael Prejean and plays at school under the direction of Steve Schoppert who is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, an 11,000+ member organization headquartered in Austin. This is Alex’s first time to perform as a member of a TMEA All-State organization. Alex is the son of Ron and Kelley Borel. High school students selected to perform in the All-State concerts have competed through several levels of auditions beginning in the fall of 2014 to qualify at the state level. All-State is the highest honor a Texas music student can receive. Over 1,600 students are selected through a process that begins with over 60,000 students from around the state vying for this honor to perform in one of 15 ensembles (bands, orchestras, and choirs).

The Bridge City Chamber of Commerce has named Julie Agee, Registrar/PEIMS Secretary at Orangefield High School, as the Employee of the Month for January 2015. Julie is married to Jerry Agee and they have 3 daughters and 1 son-in-law; Savannah, Jeri, Shelby Storment and USMC Sgt. Daniel Storment. She is a graduate of St. Mary Catholic School and West Orange – Stark High School with a Bachelor of Science in Corporate Communication from Lamar University. As a member of St. Helen Catholic Church, Julie serves as a facilitator for 11th/ 12th grade religious education. Julie said, “I enjoy service opportunities and supporting our local businesses and communities. As far as my job, I never planned to work in the field of education. However, I’m not surprised this is where my path led. My values were most influenced, not only by my parents, but by strong and passionate teachers throughout my educational career. My hope is to carry on their legacy of helping others achieve success through hard work and integrity.”

At approximately 7:45 am Tuesday, there was a three vehicle crash on Interstate 10 near Rose City in Orange County that injured three people. A 2003 Ford pickup truck was traveling westbound on the Interstate in the inside traffic lane. The driver of the Ford truck failed to control his speed and struck a 2003 Nissan passenger vehicle in the rear. The impact of the collision caused the Ford truck to rollover onto a 2003 Honda van that was traveling in the middle lane of Interstate 10. The driver of the Nissan passenger, 27 year old Anurag Addala of Beaumont, was not injured. However, his passenger, 22 year old Haris Musku of Beaumont, was transported to St. Elizabeth hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the Honda van, 28 year old Jena Freeman of Louisiana, and her passenger, 68 year old, Alice Nash of Silsbee, were both transported to Baptist hospital in Beaumont with non life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Ford, 19 year old Colton Ehase of Baytown, was not injured in the crash. Colton Ehase was issued a traffic citation for Failure to Control Speed.

Nine of the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School Art Students who entered the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Art Competition have received notification that they were awarded ribbons and medals for their entries. Kirty Weatherly (1) received Best of Show and Shannon Boozer earned a Gold Medal, as did Brooke Tant. Bailee Burnett and Sundas Imtiaz earned Finalist Ribbons, Taylor Reichart a Blue Ribbon, Abby Turner, Brianna Cart and Elizabeth Guillot were all Red Ribbon winners.  The Best of Show and Gold Medal winners’ art will go to the next level of competition and be on display in Reliant Center during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The awards ceremony will be March 7, for district winners.  The LCM High School art teacher is Betsy Kaufman.

Orange businessman Jackie Mayfield called himself an old soldier for civil rights and he was happy to see people in their 20s and 30s with their children at the Martin Luther King Jr. march on Monday. Nearly 200 people traveled through Orange to the courthouse steps at noon to honor the late civil rights leader. Mayfield is a longtime leader in the local NAACP, but this year, the group didn't sponsor the march. A group of individuals, including Orange City Councilman Larry Spears, his sister FeLica Manuel, Diztorsha Lavan, Joanne Levi and Julie Fox, helped organize the march. Matthew Gans, another longtime NAACP member, said the local group endorsed a new generation taking the time to see that a tradition doesn't die. People of all generations and colors attended to remember the message of equality that Dr. King preached and for which he lost his life. The generations also participated in the program. Lavan, a teacher at West Orange-Stark High School, had students read poetry. The crowd pushed for Larry Anderson to recite Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Anderson said he first recited the speech at the MLK event here in 1984, when he was 34. Now, he's 65. He joked that he sat in the chairs for senior citizens. When he began the famous speech, even the youngsters playing in the sunshine stopped and listened to the dramatic words of "of nation where (his children) will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

The Bridge City Chamber of Commerce announced the Students of the Month for January at their Monthly Networking Coffee on January 13th at Orangefield Cormier Museum hosted by Orangefield ISD. Bree Newsom was chosen as the Bridge City High School Student of the Month and Kristen Blanke was chosen as the Orangefield High School Student of the Month. Newsom is the daughter of Daniel and Renee Newsom. Bree is ranked 11 of 187 with a GPA of 4.37. Bree’s awards and honors include Presidential Honor Roll; Honors Chemistry, Physics and Algebra II; AP English III and IV and United States History; Rotary Youth Leadership Award; and All Region Choir Member. When asked about her future plans, Bree said “I plan to attend Texas A&M University in the fall of 2015 to pursue and education as a communications major. With this degree, I hope to one day become a human resource manager for a company of some kind so I can put my various problem solving skill sets to good use.” Blanke, is the daughter of John and Marla Blanke. She is ranked number 1 out of 136 with a 4.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Kristen’s clubs and organizations include: President of the National Honor Society; Vice President of the Texas Association of Future Educators; Class president; and Participates in Volleyball and Track. After graduation, Kristen will attend Texas A&M University and study business.

A door opened and people stepped into the dusty brick space of broken windows and cracked wooden molding. The group was not made of archeologists, but part of an architectural team ready to restore the century-old Southern Pacific Depot in downtown Orange. Nina Rivers with Architectural Alliance of Beaumont said they went to measure things like windows and molding as part of the preliminary phase of the restoration. A year ago, the non-profit group Friends of the Orange Depot announced that the long-vacant and decaying depot had been purchased. The group set out to raise $600,000 for the restoration. By November the Friends had raised more than half that amount. Restoration work could begin at the $400,000 mark and the group is now close. Basically, it was the first time the team had been inside. The city of Orange boarded up the depot almost five years ago to keep vagrants out. When the non-profit group bought it, a hole in the roof was sending rain into the interior. Volunteers fixed that. Rivers said part of an original desk attached to a wall is still standing, but the drawers are missing. It's in the Queen Anne style. The desk will be among the items restored. Rivers said a date hasn't been set for work to begin.

Orange being mentioned in news reports out of New Orleans as a human trafficking and slavery trial against Signal International is underway in federal court. The jury was picked on Monday and testimony started Tuesday on whether immigrant workers from India were forced into servitude. The trial is specifically against Signal's Pascagoula, Mississippi, yard but similar suits against the Orange yard have been filed in federal court in Beaumont. The cases were filed separately by individuals after a previous decision by a federal judge rejected a class action suit. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union are among the groups representing the workers. A number of private lawyers from across the country are also helping the plaintiffs. "The case is a stark example of the shameful exploitation within the nation's broken guest worker program," the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a press release. more

The Orange Rotary Club is honored to present An Evening of Classical Music with Francesco Attesti and Matteo Galli. Francesco Attesti is an Italian pianist of international acclaim. The epitome of Francesco’s collaborative work to date is his performance with the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague, performing the European premiere of “Chiavi in Mano” by the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Yehudi Wyner. Francesco is a Paul Harris Fellow and member of the Rotary Club Cortona Valdichiana, District 2071 in Italy. Matteo Galli is the chief organist at the St. Maria presso St. Satiro Basilica in Milan, where he is also the artistic supervisor and where he attends to the musical and concert planning furthered directly by the Basilica or in relationship with the most important musical Authorities of Milan. Together, in 2007, these two published the first recording of Verdi’s Requiem, transcribed for piano and organ, on the “Le Voci della Citta” label. The benefit concert will be at the First Presbyterian Church in Orange, Texas on Monday, February 9, 2015 at 6:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased for $25 at the office of Steirman, Whitfield & Co. All proceeds from the concert will go towards the Orange Rotary Club’s community service projects.

Get Your Gumbo Ready!

Gumbo Contest for Project Graduations at Orangefield, Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Bridge City, West Orange-Stark, Vidor, and Deweyville.  Click on picture to the right for more information.

LCMCISD Honor Roll for Third Six Weeks

Restaurants and food businesses in Orange County must have kept spiffy clean for the New Year. Orange County Health Inspector James Scales visited 29 businesses during the first half of January and the lowest score was 86. The 86 went to the Spindletop Restaurant on West Freeway Boulevard in Vidor. Four had received perfect 100s. The perfect scores were for Subway on MLK Drive in Pinehurst, Bridge City Middle School, Little Cypress Intermediate School and Kids Castle on Parkside Place Drive in Bridge City. Scales also inspected three mobile food businesses for pre-opening but did not score them. Those were Hog's Heaven, Moreno's Mexican Food, and Driver & Hand Food Stand. Individual scores and demerits

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

Ninety Lamar State College-Orange Students, 76 from Texas and 14 from Louisiana, have been named to the president’s list for the fall 2014 semester. An additional 152 Texas and 17 Louisiana students made the dean’s list. The president’s list includes those students who have attended full-time during the semester, having completed 12 or more hours at LSC-O, and who have earned 4.0 semester grade point averages.  The dean’s list, which is announced by the dean of instruction, is comprised of full-time students who earned GPAs of 3.4 and above. List

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