Orange County commissioners Monday approved a payment of $7,500 to Jeffery Ward and Associates to apply for a federal Emergency Operations Center Grant.

If the grant is awarded, the Ward firm will manage the grant, Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley said.

Since hurricanes Rita and Ike, commissioners’ wish lists have included a new EOC to be housed in the proposed multipurpose center on Farm Road 1442. It would replace the EOC used during Rita and Ike in the old AT&T building in Orange. 

“It’s a 75/25 grant,” Kelley said. “It’s a $1 million ‘max’ grant. That means we can pull up to $750,000 out of it, and that funding can be applied to the portions of the building that the [Community Block Development Grants or the Texas Department of Rural Affairs] cannot be applied to. 

“So it should help us fill that gap; and it is a reoccurring grant. So if we want to, we can continue to apply next year and the year after that and continue to pull that same amount of money out of the grant as long as we qualify and the funding is there.”

The EOC would be on the second floor of a center proposed in 2007 by the CHAMPS group (Community Hands Assemble a Multipurpose Structure), which leases an 11-acre strip from the county. The group is using start-up monies from a fund begun 30 years ago by the Orange County 4-H Building Committee, and relying on donations from the public.

Kelley added, “Once you’re in the program I don’t know if there’s point system or what, but once you’re in it and you need more money it’s much easier to get the second time around.”

In a related item County Judge Carl Thibodeaux gave an update on the county’s new state-of-the-art Mobile Command Post. 

“It’s got Orange County on it but of course it’s going to be available to anyone in the region that has an emergency response situation where they need a Mobile Command Post,” he said. “They’ve still got work to do on it – decking it out and getting all the equipment in there – but it’s … a tremendous asset to Orange County … We’ve shown that we can respond and recover and this will just make us stronger in the future for anything else that comes our way.”

Waxman approved for sewer project
David Waxman and Associates was approved as administrator for sewer upgrade projects along Adams and Cow bayous.

Waxman was the only bidder, said Joel Ardoin, health code/compliance director.

Grants of about $350,000 are provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Sewer upgrades will be designed to correct pollution issues. 

The county will provide 60 percent financial coverage with the rest going to the designated homeowner who qualifies for the program.
Lester Saucier Jr. was previously approved as project engineer.

Salvage licensed renewed
Commissioners renewed a licence for Butch’s Salvage and Garage, 2695 N. Main St. in Vidor owned by James Vincent. 

Last year Vincent was a frequent guest of commissioners and in the final round he was given 60 days to comply with an established ordinance. Eventually the license was not renewed based on photographs of the property. New photographs were presented Monday.

“I think you’ve done a good job getting into compliance, but we don’t want to be here [with you] every other week,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Beamon Minton told Vincent. “We welcome you to be in business because there’s need for your kind of business.”

Thibodeaux said he was working on an ordinance change proposal that would call for citation/fine system.

“I don’t know if we can do it or not,” he said, adding he had not yet consulting with commissioners’ legal advisor Doug Manning. “If we get this thing presented to the court [a business] can be issued a citation just like you would for running a stop sign. And you won’t get a chance to put things back into compliance. You’ll end up having to pay a fine at the moment it happens.”

He told Vincent, “Good luck to you in the future and let’s see where it takes us.”