Orange County commissioners praised Sheriff Keith Merritt in special session Tuesday for the Correctional Facility’s recent glowing report upon a surprise inspection.

For the 12th consecutive year, the jail not only passed inspection but with the status “no deficiencies at all.”

“This is unprecedented in Texas because of the several hundreds of items they go through for checking stuff,” Merritt said, referring to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

The Orange County Correctional Facility is headed up by Capt. Donald Harmon.

[The staff] does a tremendous job,” Merritt said. “They know what to do and do it year round … I’m extremely proud of all the staff at the jail. It relieves a tremendous headache on my part.”

Merritt added that a recent switch in food service contractors had met with mostly positive responses, although some of the prisoners’ reviews were not as assertive as the recent inspection.

“Some want salt, some don’t, and no matter who your food service provider is you’re going to get that,” Merritt said.

“It’s not like they’re eating under the most ideal conditions,” said County Judge Carl Thibodeaux, to which County Attorney Doug Manning added, “[After all] they are in jail.”

Weather conditions

Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley reported on a tropical wave over the Yucatan Peninsula, which will likely be similar to Hurricane Alex and cause rain for Orange County.

“We do expect [the Yucatan system] to make it to the Texas coast rather than Mexico (as with Alex),” Kelley said. “Maybe as high up as the Matagorda Bay area. But it’s probably going to be a rain event for [Orange County]. Whether it strengthens or not depends entirely on how much time it spends over the Gulf.

The next hurricane will be designated Bonnie.

At press time there were two other waves – one off the coast of Florida between Florida and the Bahamas; and one in the eastern Caribbean.

Late Tuesday, the Weather Channel reported, “The tropical wave moving through the eastern Caribbean has moved into a very hostile shearing environment. Strong southwesterly winds should continue to shear the system keeping it from developing. Nevertheless the wave is expected to bring locally heavy showers and thunderstorms to Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Elsewhere the tropics continue to be very quiet across the globe.”