Kelvin Knauf is the interim city manager for the Orange beginning Wednesday. The Orange City Council Tuesday named Knauf as the interim to replace Dr. Shawn Oubre, who has resigned for a similar job in Woodway, Texas.
Knauf has been Orange’s planning and community development director for nearly four years. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas and 37 years of experience in municipal government. He has served 17 years as a city manager in different small Texas towns.
The council set his annual salary at $150,000.
In addition, City Economic Development Director Jay Trahan gave the council information on two consulting firms that assist with cities with finding new managers. The council last month decided to use a consultant to help find Oubre’s replacement.
The council also approved several projects as part of the Hazard Mitigation Action Plan. The projects must be part of the action plan before the city can apply for FEMA or other federal grants to prevent future flooding.
During the citizen comment time, Bob Baptista, who lives in the Chasse Ridge subdivision, said he was pleased to see the city addressing problems with the Chasse Ridge North Ditch at Meeks Drive and the SRA East Canal at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Baptista and Tommy Clary, who lives in the White Oak Road neighborhood, have been studying ways to alleviate flooding. Baptista told the council the city’s plan to pull up part of the two roadways and install larger concrete culverts for the ditch and canal should help. He hopes FEMA approves the projects.
Other mitigation proposals include tearing down the old Cove and Emma Wallace schools. Henry Lowe, president and founder of the Orange African American Museum, asked the city that if Wallace school is demolished, the city ask the contractor to save some of the bricks for the museum. Wallace was the African American school in the days of segregation.
Alan Mesecher, who lives in the Old Orange Historic District, commented that no one from the Beaumont City Council was speaking at the Orange meeting because “that would probably considered tactless.” He was referring to Councilwoman Annette Pernell addressing the Beaumont City Council and during her presentation mentioned that she was looking for a home in Beaumont.
He said people on the Orange council should represent their city. “If you don’t like being on the city council or in the city of Orange, it’s time to resign,” he said.
James Stephenson, who lives in the Little Cypress area off Highway 87, complained that his property is now flooding after a business ran a “tractor with lights” and directed a water flow onto his property. He said he has contacted city and county drainage officials and they said nothing could be done.
He said he is 83 years old and has lived at his house for 35 years. “I have no desire to live in a place where this is allowed to be done,” he said.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-