Over two months now into the crisis over the Coronavirus, local businesses are beginning to reopen following restrictions imposed on many of them by the state of Texas. County government followed the same social distancing restrictions in conducting its operations the last two months.
County Judge John Gothia said despite the pandemic Orange County has continued operations for the most part at the Courthouse complex. Some employees needed to work at home and the county used a rotational schedule. Protective screens are being installed at the counters where citizens will have interactions with county employees.
Most business at the Courthouse has been ongoing using the internet and telephone. The judicial courts are scheduled to start up operations again with the beginning of June.
The Courthouse is reopening for business with the facility now reopen to the public. “We’re phasing things in for the reason of public safety and everything’s been continuing,” Gothia confirmed.
Road and bridge crews for the county have working throughout the county to clear ditches and help with drainage with the arrival this month of hurricane season. Judge Gothia signed requests the last week of May for equipment purchases to be used in drainage operations.
Three entities are working together to improve the drainage for all of Orange County. The county’s Road and Bridge Department has joined with the Orange County Drainage District and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to mow and clear ditches in the never-ending job to improve drainage. “We’ve still got a long way to go, we’ll always have a long way to go. We can mow the ditch tomorrow and it grows back,” Gothia reminded.
The county judge gave his top three drainage wishes to KOGT’s Gary Stelly on the show People in the Know. The Relief Ditch Project at the north end of the county topped the list. The relief ditch will funnel water flowing from Newton and Jasper Counties coming into Orange County and take the overflow from Cow Bayou to the Sabine River.
Number two wish is the Bessie Heights and Bridge City Marsh Project. Work is to get ditches opened up to drain water into the marshes and then into the open areas south of the county.
Third would be two Retention Pond Projects underway in the county. The Drainage District closed the final paperwork on the 650 acres in north Vidor the last week of May which opens the door for funding to build a retention pond there. Another 200 acres of property just off of Cow Bayou is a prospective site for another retention pond.
Those three projects are the top priorities for improving the drainage in the county. “Those three things would make a huge difference in drainage in Orange County,” Gothia predicted.
A fourth project that has been looked at by the county with TxDOT is getting the drainage around Interstate 10 better. The new district director Don Smith with TxDOT and Gothia have met the last two weeks of May to discuss the studies of the drains under the raised interstate lanes in the county.
The bottom line according to Gothia is not taking water from one area and dumping on another area that cannot handle it. “We don’t want to pull water off of one part of the area and put it into another area where it still can’t get out of the county flooding those people,” Gothia concluded.
Next up for Gothia will be preparing the budget for next year. Budget hearings should start this month. Judge Gothia on People in the Know can be hear on KOGT every Monday morning at 7:00 AM.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-