Protection district off to good start
He’s not fond of the term “Ike Dike,” however, Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux told commissioners Monday the first meeting of a six-county district formed to develop a storm surge protection system study went well.
Thibodeaux attended the meeting last week in Galveston along with representatives of Jefferson, Galveston, Chambers, Harris and Brazoria counties.
“Everybody was on the same page,” he said of the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District. “Everybody had a major concern on protecting the economic well-being of those counties.”
Orange’s Chemical Row suffered losses after Hurricane Ike, and Harris County’s petrochemical area was spared by just a few miles of the storm surge.
“Thirty percent of the fuel that goes to the rest of the country is made right here and it could be vastly affected by a major storm,” Thibodeaux said.
At the meeting, representatives voted to send out proposals for what would be the district’s bank depository, as well as an engineering firm to serve as an “umbrella” agency to oversee the project.
Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough was elected chairman of the corporation, and Jefferson County Judge-elect Jim Branick will serve as vice chairman.
“They’ve got the staff to be able to do that part of a job involving a corporation,” Thibodeaux said. “There’s a lot of work that’s going to be on the chairman and vice chairman and you definitely need a staff in your office to take care of that … We have a job to do and we need to get started now. It’s worse to do nothing.”
Orange County is also pursuing its own protection system study through its Economic Development Corp.
“I had some of the [other] judges ask me privately how we put the corporation together and how we’re utilizing it to move forward with our levee project,” Thibodeaux said.
Deputy constables’ insurance
Also in special session, commissioners limited to three the number of deputy constables (per each of four precincts) who could be insured under the county’s personally owned vehicle coverage.
Previously, no deputy constables could be insured, other than through a personal carrier. Precinct 4 Constable Weldon Peveto brought the issue before commissioners a few weeks ago regarding an incident last year, when one of his deputies was dropped by his carrier after being cleared of any negligence by accident investigators.
Precinct 2 Constable Rob Strause told commissioners that some deputies don’t need county insurance since they only work security at festivals or in courtrooms; and that some do because they use their own cars for parade or funeral escorts.
Commissioners issued proclamations recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month as well as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Cindy Fertitta of the Rape and Suicide Crisis Center of Southeast Texas said residents should report abuse and other crimes to help communities grow and further economic development.
“What a better way to serve Orange County to say that you are ‘victim-friendly’ … that Orange County is able to stand up for those victims who are not able to speak for themselves,” she said.
The center provides 24-hour crisis hot lines (409) 835-3355 or 1-800-WE-CARE); and hosts regular meetings of the Sexual Violence Prevention in Disasters Task Force and the Sexual Assault Response Team. For meeting times, call (409) 832-6530, or go to www.rapesuicidebeaumont. org.