Orange County commissioners this week approved a call for bids on the CHAMPS multipurpose facility, and awarded a bid to Cleveland Construction for the replacement building for Precinct 3 justice of the peace offices.

The Community Hands Assemble a Multipurpose Structure had an original price tag of about $19 million, however, newer estimates could be substantially less after various options are explored.

The county is required to pay 43 percent of a grant from the Texas Department of Rural Affairs.

It was thought in a workshop this week the county may only owe $3.1 million, however, this was emphasized as a rough figure.

The CHAMPS citizens’ group has also dedicated money and support to the project through fundraisers and donations.

The centrally-located facility proposed for Farm Road 1442 could host trade shows, youth activities, graduations and other events.

Plans call for it to house a new Emergency Operations Center, shelter for disaster victims, as well as new offices for Road and Bridge and Code Compliance offices to replace those affected by Hurricane Ike.

* * *

The JP3 building will replace Judge Janice Menard’s mobile home, also a result of Hurricane Ike damage. Present estimates are at $376,287. The building will be constructed at the airport, near the present JP3 temporary offices.

Any major work order changes must be brought before the court.

Commissioners also called for sealed proposals of the replacement building for Adult Probation, with a design based on Mark Magnuson and Associates.

Mosquito plane flying?

The aircraft dedicated to cutting down mosquitoes, not in the air since an accident in June, could be back in the sky soon said Mosquito Control Director Patrick Beebe.

Pilot Patrick Bourke is grounded pending a Federal Aviation Administration investigation, however, commissioners approved the hiring of Jeff Douthett, who has 10 years’ experience flying for Jefferson County.

The plane still has to pass several tests and calibrations before it resumes service.
“If everything works out according to plan this week, we could very easily have that plane in the air,” Beebe said.

As the county waits on the FAA, Bourke spends his time overseeing repairs to the 1981 Cessna aircraft.

Douthett’s contract work will cost the county around $5,000, Beebe said.
“We’ve got to do it,” County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said. “The plane’s got to fly. The mosquitoes need to be killed.”

BC roadwork proposal

The Texas Department of Transportation’s Matthew Volkmann said the organization wants to close the Berwick Lane crossover in Bridge City and extend the left turn lane at the Texas 87 and Texas 62 intersection.

Volkmann was looking for support, however, Thibodeaux and Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose said TxDot should have public hearings first.

Also, TxDot has yet to present the idea to Bridge City council members.

Dubose said a crossover closure would cut off one of two ways to access the Cow Bayou boat launch.

“The change is to try to accommodate the traffic that several times back up all the way over the Cow Bayou Bridge to Bridge City,” Volkmann said.

“There is a great deal of traffic there,” Dubose said.

Thibodeaux added that although Berwick is generally a low-traveled lane, some residents there might not “be happy” about the proposal.

Round II Ike funds

The Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission seeks input on a partial method of distribution for $104,772,379 in Hurricane Ike Round II Community Development Block Grant Supplemental Disaster Recovery Funds.

A PDF file can be viewed or downloaded at Hard copies are also available for review at the commission’s offices, 2210 Eastex Frwy., Beaumont. Information on a public hearing and how written comments can be submitted are also on the Web site.

Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley told commissioners the initial figure for Orange County appears to be about 25 percent of what the county signed-up for.

“Is that split equally between the other counties involved?” asked Precinct 1 Commissioner David Dubose. “We had the most damage and we’re not getting our fair share.”

“I would agree with that assessment,” Kelley said.

The county was better compensated during the Round I phase, Kelley said. After that, “some formulas changed as to how the money was given out.”

Another thing that hurts the county is a stipulation of low-to-moderate income eligibility, Thibodeaux said.

Most of the county areas affected by the storm do not meet low-to-moderate status, he said.