The Commissioners Court approved Tuesday the criteria for businesses damaged by Harvey to apply for special grants from the Orange County Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Executive Director Jessica Hill said a committee of the Board of Directors with the EDC designed the guidelines for the grant applications.
The Commissioners Court has said it will earmark $150,000 for the business grants, and Hill has further set aside another $50,000 from her EDC budget for the grants. It is expected that forty grants of $5,000 dollars each will be made available. To be eligible to receive a grant the business must be for-profit and located in Orange County.
Hill indicated applications for the grants will be available in her office at the Administration Building of the Courthouse beginning Tuesday morning, October 11. After being filled out applications can be returned to the EDC office starting October 23. The deadline for returning the grant application will be November 3. Hill added that the applications when returned to her office will be date stamped. If more than forty applications are received there will be a wait listed created and those could still be eligible for a grant if more funds become available.
A resolution approving the transfer of the $150,000 from a line item in the EDC budget for land acquisition and economic development should be approved at next week’s Commissioners Court meeting. The Auditor’s Office is working to create a special budget line item for the funds.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office lost five vehicles as a result of the flooding from Harvey. The Commissioners Court Tuesday approved the Sheriff’s Office purchasing ten new vehicles as well as some needed equipment for use in the Orange County Jail.
The ten vehicles approved were all Ford Expeditions, which is a bit of a change from the Dodge Chargers which make up the bulk of the Sheriff’s fleet of vehicles. Sheriff’s Chief Deputy John Tarver told Commissioners that the Expeditions are much better suited for this area than the Chargers because the Ford’s do better in driving through high water.
Tarver was asked where most of the new Ford Expeditions would be used. He responded the Expeditions would primarily be used on patrol. “We need to be able to get to our citizens whenever our citizens call for us with the resources that we have in that vehicle, we don’t need to leave it a quarter of a mile up the road and not have what we need to do what we need to do with these particular calls,” Tarver concluded.
The Commissioners approved purchasing the vehicles through Buy-Board which will be faster than going out for bids from dealers. The cost will be $425,169. The Sheriff’s Office should receive the ten new vehicles in about three months. The Orange County Jail will receive a convection oven, a jet can washer, a planetary mixer, and two natural gas ranges for a total cost of $25,500.
Commissioners also received the Mutual Aid Agreement from the City of Orange which will help with the cleanup of debris from Harvey. This is the same Mutual Aid Agreement submitted by the other municipalities in Orange County and allows the county to have FEMA pay the bulk of the cleanup cost.