County Judge Carl Thibodeaux Monday suggested that the county engineer and director of maintenance see if they can design a new building for the sheriff’s office to process and store evidence.

Chief Deputy David Reeves at first asked if the office could hire and architect or engineer to design the building. The design could cost about $20,000. But Thibodeaux said the engineer and maintenance director have helped design other simple buildings. He said if they have time, they should see if they can help the sheriff’s office.
Last month, Commissioners Court told Sheriff Mike White he could seek bids to build the new evidence building, but that didn’t mean he could start construction, yet. However, Reeves Monday told commissioners the office needs a draft of the building for prospective bidders.

Also, the court authorized the sheriff’s office to look for new places to evacuate county prisoners in case of an emergency. Reeves said Orange County has had an agreement with Dallas County to house prisoners in a situation like a major hurricane. However, Dallas County is not meeting current state jail standards, so Orange County should not send prisoners there at this time.

He said several jails to the north can hold some of the prisoners, but few can hold all of Orange County’s prisoners. He will also contact private companies operating jails or prisons in the state.

In addition, he is looking for an emergency site like Newton County to take prisoners for a day or two in case of a short-term problem like a chemical spill in the Sabine River next to the jail.

Commissioners Court spent most of its time Monday dealing with the issue of dilapidated houses which have drawn complaints from neighbors and are posing a health hazard. The county recently received grant money to help demolish some of the houses.

Commissioners gave Chris Powers another week to fill up a pool at 5109 North Oak. Powers is trying to find out who owns the house so he can buy it. Commissioners were concerned about an unsanitary, old swimming pool and Powers had told them he would fill it in.

However, on Monday he said he has had a problem getting to the pool. This past weekend, he cut down fallen trees, rented equipment and pumped the water out of the pool. He said he plans to put in about 20 truckloads of dirt into the pool in the next week. Commissioners gave him more time to do the pool work.

Also, commissioners gave another 30 days to Gene Mansfield to clean up a house at 3668 Fourth Ave. Mansfield, who is disabled, told commissioners he wasn’t the only owner of the property, four other heirs are involved, but he doesn’t know who they are.

Commissioner Precinct 1 James Stringer, who is a real estate specialist, said the he looked at the property. He said the house could be repaired but the property is “filthy, full of stuff” and scary with snakes and rats.

Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose said the county has given Mansfield extensions to clean the property but he hasn’t made any progress. He said he would give one more 30-day extension, but would not consider another one.

Commissioners met in closed-door executive session with Assistant County Attorney Doug Manning for advice on how to proceed legally to get another house condemned for demolition.

Also, a Vidor couple that has been complaining about a salvage yard not meeting state regulations attended the meeting. Thibodeaux said commissioners will have a workshop meeting to discuss new county rules on salvage yards and junkyards. He said Manning has been researching the issue and is writing new regulations for the commissioners to consider.