Commissioners green-light Orangefield demolition, approve two Vidor salvage yards

On-going discussions between county commissioners and Orangefield’s Gene Mansfield ended Monday when the go-ahead went out to demolish designated areas of property he inherited.

The grounds on Fourth Avenue were severely damaged by Hurricane Rita in 2005. Mansfield has repeatedly told commissioners the hurricane “wiped me out” and been unable to make repairs or move items from a house there into storage. In recent meetings, commissioners suggested he sell the items, however, Mansfield said transportation was still a problem. Last week, he reported a break-in to the court and said many items had been stolen.

On Monday, he said, “There are a few things left out there that’s worth something. I made a police report but haven’t heard nothing from them. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a crime scene.”

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said, “We’ve done everything we can humanely do, but when we’re out of options, we don’t have a choice.

 I’m not comfortable with it either, but [the items have] been in there over three years and should have been taken out earlier … this does not kill the case of the stolen items. That’s still an active case.”

Thibodeaux asked Sheriff’s Capt. Tommy Smith, who attended Monday’s session, to get with Mansfield after the meeting.

Mansfield has said the property was owned by his mother, now deceased; and he has several siblings around the country who either can’t be contacted or have shown no interest to maintain the grounds.

Earlier Monday was a public hearing about two Vidor salvage yards under scrutiny regarding license issuance: Michael Judy operating Judy’s Iron and Metal; and James Vincent of Butch’s Salvage and Garage. Both were approved, with reminders from Commissioners John Dubose and Beamon Minton that the businesses’ outward appearance would be monitored. The owners were commended for working with commissioners.

“We encourage you to keep it up since your appearance affects the property values of your neighbors,” Minton said.

However, Woody Dugas of Vidor, while supporting most of Judy’s efforts, said Judy’s fences should be better maintained, with “earth tones” and without holes.

Reading a report from County Engineer Les Anderson, Thibodeaux said, “I’ve looked all through this and I can’t see it. That’s for counties of 200,000 or more. We only have 84,000.”

“Mr. Judy makes a habit of cleaning up before he comes to court,” Dugas said. “[The yard] should be screened-in for the beautification of the community.”

Thibodeaux replied, “I’ve never seen a salvage yard that’s beautiful.”