The Orange County Drainage District board Monday hired Mark Stephenson, 47, as general manager, effective immediately, while letting go seven-year manager Wilbert Duhon.

Stephenson had previously served as assistant general manager.

Board members Bill Dixon, J.B. Arrington, Hal Lapray, Jimmy Scales and Brent Peveto voted in a 4-to-1 decision in closed session. Scales cast the opposing vote.

“We evaluated Mr. Duhon’s performance over the past year and decided to make some changes,” said board attorney Don Corona, who also works for the Martin Dies firm. 

“A review will be made of some of our current practices to determine if there is a lack of control that needs to be addressed,” he said.

Duhon, 62, said he still considered himself friends with Stephenson and other board members. “There is no animosity between us ,” he said. “That job requires a lot of energy and decisions and nine times out of 10 somebody wants to call you up on them.”

He added that over the years his administration saw several drainage improvements. 

He said he was proud of recent projects involving detention ponds (one as large as 80 acres) – one on Lawrence Street, another at the corner of Terry Street and Farm Road 1135 and another along a gully south of Interstate 10 and west of FM 1132. 

The ponds will provide flood waters a place to go, rather than someone’s home.

“We’ve improved a lot of the drainage systems in this area,” he said.

Duhon took over as manager from Ron Sigler, who had headed up the district since the late ‘90s. Sigler went on to briefly own a liquor store, work in South America and later join the Ascension Parish (La.) planning and community development office.

Duhon has worked for the Sun Oil Co., and as a consultant for various engineering firms. He said he wasn’t sure about his future but had a few options to consider.

Drainage District meetings take place at 10 a.m. Tuesdays.

Monday’s meeting was a special-called session.