The Record 2010 Community News Features
As this year comes to a close, the staff at The Record Newspaper decided to take a look back over the headline news from 2010. From the tragic death of Reggie Garrett Jr. to the election of Jody Crump, the first Republican Commission for Orange County, 2010 has been a year to remember. Take the journey with us as we briefly look back, “There’s a little something for everybody. Come along, it won’t do you no harm.”
Emergency center grant approved
On Jan 4., Orange County commissioners approved a payment of $7,500 to Jeffery Ward and Associates to apply for a federal Emergency Operations Center Grant.
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.
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.
O’field fixture Granger dies at 85
Thomas Regan “Tick” Granger passed away at the Meadows early Monday, Jan. 18, 2010 surrounded by family. He celebrated his 85 birthday Dec. 26, 2009 and had a massive heart attack the next day.
Granger was the patriarch to one of Orangefield’s founding families, living in the small town his entire life. He spent years in service to his community and church. Granger proudly served in the Navy during World War II. Granger married the love of his life, Sarah Smith on Jan. 21, 1948. They raised their family together in the small country town.
“Tick,” as he was known to everyone, worked in the Orangefield oil fields before hiring on at E.I. Dupont Sabine River Works. Upon retiring, he was elected to serve as Orange County commissioner of Precinct 3.
“He brought new life to the court. He was always upbeat and very energetic,” said former County Judge Pete Runnels, who served with Granger. He said Granger was always eager to jump into new projects, had fresh ideas and was a problem solver – coming up with good solutions. “He was very intelligent with good common sense.”
Although Granger served only one term as commissioner, he was also on the court with former County Judge James Stringer. “He was a good man, thoughtful, did a good job and always voted his convictions,” said Stringer.
Granger also served as a member of the Orange County Drainage District, Orangefield school board and the Orange Memorial Hospital Board.
“He was a good supporter of Orangefield as an elected official and as a citizen,” said former Orangefield Superintendent Robert Montagne. Granger was not just considered a family friend by Montagne, but also a long standing personal friend.
Granger was buried Thursday, Jan. 20, 2010, which would have been his and Sarah’s 62 anniversary. Also left behind are his daughters, Linda Crawford and husband George, Bonita Eaves and husband Charles, Lisa Smith and husband Bubba; sons, Tommy Granger and his fiancée, Peggy Stewart, Stephen Granger and wife Glenda, Glenn Granger and wife Barbara. He also has 38 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Worster named BCCC 50th anniversary Citizen of the Year
More than four decades after he led the Bridge City Cardinals to a Class 3A state championship, former University of Texas two-time All-America fullback Steve Worster was named the 2009 50th Anniversary Citizen of the Year by the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce.
Worster, 60, was honored during the BCCC 2010 Annual Banquet on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Bridge City High School. His iconic No. 30 Cardinal football jersey, long retired, was displayed in the foyer of the new school gymnasium.
“Steve Worster put Bridge City on the map,” said Becky Andrews, chairwoman for the annual banquet.”
Worster led the Cardinals to a 13-1 season and the Class 3A state football championship in 1966, running for 2,210 yards and being named a High-School All-American. To win the championship, the underdog Cardinals romped to a symbolic 30-6 win over McKinney at Baylor Stadium. Bridge City also reached the Class 3A state championship in 1965 before losing to Brownwood, 14-0.
He went on to become a two-time All-America fullback in Darrell Royal’s famed wishbone offense, and played a key role in the Texas Longhorns’ back-to-back national championships in 1969-70. He wore the same, famed No. 30 as he had as a Cardinal.
Record founder, Gaston, left mark on Bridge City
Walter Gaston, 89, there at the beginning of The Penny Record and Bridge City’s American Legion Post 250, died Tuesday, Feb. 16 in Port Arthur’s Christus-St. Mary Hospital.
He was also described by many as “Mr. Lions Club,” and was once president of the Bridge City chapter.
He lived to see The Penny Record celebrate its 49th anniversary in 2009, as it continued to cover Bridge City and later extend to a second paper, The County Record.
Born in Orange in 1920, Gaston saw places such as Australia and New Zealand as a Navy sailor in World War II. After his service time ended, he saw a need for a fraternal military organization in Bridge City. Co-founded with Capt. Glen Humphrey, that group became Post 250. Gaston was honored in 2008 with a Lifetime Achievement Certificate by the post.
In 1960, Gaston and his wife Audrey Rogers Gaston cranked out the first Penny Record, the year after Gulf States Utilities built its Bridge City power plant and the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce formed. The original Record office was a stucco building on Texas Avenue.
“The first issue had about eight pages,” Gaston told The Record Newspapers in 2008. It was newsletter size with photographs in black and white. The premier edition featured an aerial photograph of the city.
BCB still going, growing
Small start leads to big success
The first bank in Bridge City celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary on April 16.
The Bridge City Strutters, cheerleaders and team mascot were hosts and members of the Bridge City City Council served gumbo, with entertainment by Jesse Stuart and Ridin’ High. The food was prepared by Al Judice and Kenneth Smith and served following a chamber ribbon-cutting.
“The bank started out with a certified surplus of $1,000,” says President and CEO Jerry Davidson, who joined the bank in 1979. “When I came in [as president in ‘85] we were a $16 million bank; now we’re at $128 million. So we’ve seen a lot of growth right along with the community.”
James Little was the first president from 1960-63, W.G. Thornell as interim president until 1965 and Fred Gregory until 1985. The first board meeting was Dec. 1, 1959.
The original offices were on Texas Avenue near Roundbunch, roughly the area where Dr. Mark Messer’s dental practice is now. Bank employees moved into their present location around 1980, and the building was remodeled around 1990. Other repairs were necessary after hurricanes Rita (2005) and Ike (2008).
Looking to the future, Davidson says there will be additional ATM locations, plus the possibility of a new branch.
Original board members were W.G. Thornell, B.J. Fields, Dr. Paul Myer, Byron Tinsley, John R. Saint, James Little, J.B Scales Sr. and Austin Floyd.
Bridge City Bank also has a branch at 57 Strickland Drive in Orange.
For more information about services, call 409-735-3516 or go to www.bridgecitybank.com.
Records observes half-century mark
The Penny Record came about as an accident to be a community fixture during a booming period in Bridge City’s history, and has expanded to a second paper with wider Orange County focus that grew in size and circulation.
The 1959-60 era also saw the formation of the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce, and the opening of the first town bank (Bridge City Bank) and Market Basket. All are still there.
In a 2005 interview with Penny Record founder Walter Gaston by then-editor Darryl Brinson, the idea for the paper was formed when a salesman walked into the offices of Bridge City Printing, owned by Gaston.
It has often been said The Record is the only paper in its market where one can read homespun town talk – the things other papers used print but don’t anymore such as residents’ trips to visit relatives; while not forgetting news of interest concerning government, education, tourism and economic development.
Gaston, who died earlier this year, said in 2005 his wife and two daughters “did everything from the janitor work on up,” a tradition that continues today where you might see a staff member tending to cats who hang about.
That office, however, would be the one in Bridge City, still not occupied full-time since Hurricane Ike. While the distribution staff still works in Bridge City about a mile from the editorial quarters, news staff took up post-Ike residence on Henrietta Street in Orange after the Harmon dealership offered some little-used office space.
Gaston believed The Penny Record was the second “offset type” paper in the area, that being where a lithographic plate makes an inked impression on a rubber blanket which transfers it to paper. Gaston thought the first offset paper here was called the Nederland Review.
“We called it The Penny Record because we would run giveaway ads, like when somebody wanted to give away a dog or something for a penny,” he said. “It was always a free paper, just like it is now, and we started out delivering about 1,000 of them every week. Bridge City wasn’t near as big then as it is now.
William Smith, the third publisher, was also the owner of Central Office Supply. But Smith found it hard to divide his time between the paper and the store. In the end, he chose the store.
In 1995 Smith sold his stock in The Penny Record to Roy Dunn, former publisher of the Opportunity Valley News and Community Post. Soon Dunn’s wife Phyllis, and children Karen Gros and Mark Dunn became an integral part of the paper, as they had with other Dunn publications. Very soon after, The County Record debuted.
‘Noted’ music teacher retires
Ann Bryant retired after 57 years with the Bridge City district; 61 years of teaching in all.
She says she will spend time with husband Cecil, also a retired teacher, and give piano lessons every afternoon.
She grew up in Port Neches in the area where Merriman Street is now. Back then it was called the “Kitchens’ Dairy”/”Kitchens’ Row” area.
She attended Lamar, where she met Cecil. At the time Lamar was a junior college. She also went to the St. Louis Institute of Music in Missouri.
In 1948, she was hired for the Riverside section of Orange.
She taught where the high school is now, when it only had grades one through eight. The older kids in Bridge City commuted to Orange’s Stark High School.
“I was at Hatton [Elementary] when it opened in the ‘60s,” she says.
She is active with the National Guild of Piano Teachers.
Cow Bayou Swing Bridge named to Nat’l Register
Bridge City was named for its bridges. Now, the Cow Bayou Swing Bridge has joined the Rainbow Bridge on the National Register of Historic Places. The rare swing bridge crossing Cow Bayou is one of only two center pivot swing bridges remaining in Texas.
The National Park Service made the selection May 10, which placed both of the town’s namesake bridges on the National Register. The Rainbow Bridge spanning the Neches River was listed in 1996.
The Cow Bayou Swing Bridge becomes just the seventh historic property in Orange County to be listed on the National Register. Six are in Orange; the W.H. Stark House, the Lutcher Memorial Church Building, the Navy Park Historic District, the Joseph and Annie Lucas House, the Sims House and the Woodmen of the World Lodge. The Rainbow Bridge is among the 41 Jefferson County listings.
The swing bridge became eligible for listing to the National Register in 1990. It was the same year that Veteran’s Memorial Bridge crossing the Neches River was completed.
The National Register of Historic Places is a federal program administered by the Texas Historical Commission in coordination with the NPS. Listing in the National Register provides national recognition of historical significance and denotes that a property is worthy of preservation. The designation also enhances a regions opportunities in heritage tourism.
The National Register of Historic Places includes districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. These resources contribute to an understanding of the historical and cultural foundations of the nation.
City buys Jack Tar property
The Jack Tar Hotel, once the center of things in Orange but devastated by time and Hurricane Ike, will be bought by the city to continue downtown restoration efforts.
Also part of the deal: the hotel’s former parking area where Division Avenue meets Fifth Street.
There officials say a new facility will be built as a senior center and headquarters of the Meals on Wheels program.
For the time being, earlier plans to develop apartments on the property have been scrapped.
The popular hotel featured a barbershop, ballroom, stores and a restaurant famous for its prime rib. Behind the building was a garden terrace area with shaded tables and a swimming pool.
The area adjacent to the Lutcher Theater, city hall and riverfront area is now being called Downtown Central Park and will be tied-in to a boardwalk, outdoor pavilion and other attractions.
Bobcats have memorable season
Coach Bennett and the Bobcats did not reach their goal of reaching the 2010 State Baseball Tournament, but they had an amazing run. This season will be talked about for years to come. It started with an undefeated district championship and ended with Coach Bennett reaching a milestone (his 100th win by beating the No. 1 rank team in the state, Robinson). 2010 also saw three division one signees – Jacob Felts (Texas), Jace Statum (Texas A&M) and Chase Angelle (Lamar) – and a trip to the regional final. These were only a few of the highlights. Congratulations to Coach Bennett, his staff and the Bobcats. Not only have you made Orangefield proud but all of Orange County also. Thanks for the memories.
Orange’s Patterson named Mrs. Texas
Shannon Schambeau Patterson of Orange, a certified personal trainer and aerobics instructor at Bodyworkz Health Club in Bridge City, was recently crowned Mrs. Texas in Corsicana.
She competed in the Mrs. America competition at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Ariz., Aug. 31-Sept. 7. She placed in the top six.
She was Miss District of Columbia 2005. She competed for the title of Miss America 2006, where she won the Preliminary Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit Award and was named fourth runner up.
She has been actively involved with the organization as a judge and working with current state titleholders in their preparation for Miss America and helping them develop into confident women.
She is married to John Patterson and is the sister-in-law of Rebecca Patterson, who works with high school students in the nonprofit Scholarship Success program.
John Patterson played professional baseball as a starting pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers. Shannon, who’s heard the question a few times as to what John thinks of all this, describes her husband as very involved.
“He’s very supportive, and judges with me,” she said. “Being that I’m a trainer, I’m always working toward the most healthy lifestyle possible, and he being an athlete shares those values and anything that he can do to have a positive impact on it.”
Shannon was sponsored in the Mrs. Texas pageant by local companies Rodan and Fields Skincare (Shannon is an independent consultant), Golden Triangle Industries, Grand Slam Batting Cages and Bodyworkz.
A native of San Antonio, Fla., she holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business administration from St. Leo University. She was chosen as St. Leo’s Distinguished Alumna for 2008-09 and was the Student Representative Commencement Speaker for the 2005 Graduate Programs. Shannon was a Magna Cum Laude graduate and received the Outstanding Student in Management and Outstanding Student in the School of Business 2002-03 Awards from the University.
Shannon has been a Special Olympics volunteer for more than 18 years and also worked for the International Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as the Manager for Donor Relations. She has volunteered on a local, state and international level. She had the chance to not only meet, but work beside her greatest role model, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
“I moved to D.C. to work with Special Olympics and that’s where I met my husband while he was playing for Washington,” she said. “Eventually we moved to his hometown, which is Orange.”
Shannon has been on missionary trips to the Dominican Republic and Haiti and volunteered with the Jimmy Carter Work Project in Valdosta, Ga. Shannon has helped build more than 20 houses with Habitat for Humanity.
Chenella reflects on retirement
Joe Chenella – Bridge City teacher, principal and assistant superintendent – has announced the end of his nearly 50 years with the school district.
Chenella, whose many honors include The Record Newspapers’ Person of the Year in 2008 and Lamar University Education Hall of Fame in 2009, has seen three district high schools in his 48 years, as well as two major hurricanes.
Chenella certainly knows his figures, give or take a few numbers, as he’s been a meticulous record keeper over the years. He says he saw 4,407 graduates while a teacher, assistant principal or principal, and at least 2,053 as principal.
Most incredibly, he has never taken a sick day, which he attributes to the way he was raised.
Winfree honored once more
For the 50th anniversary of The Penny Record, Lester “Buckshot” Winfree was been named The Record Newspapers’ 2010 Person of the Year.
When he was a baby, his father picked him up and said, “My, he’s heavy as buckshot.”
Lester Winfree loved Orange County with a pioneer spirit, successful business, loving family and a duty to community.
On Friday, July 2 Buckshot passed away. Funeral services were held on July 6 at Winfree Baptist Church and was laid to rest at Winfree Family Cemetary.
First Baptist Church celebrates 70 years
Bridge City may be named for its bridges – but Prairie View got its name from a church.
First Baptist Church celebrated 70 years on July 11 but its religious roots go back to the 1877 one-room school house that became an outpost for worshipers on the coastal prairie that is now Bridge City.
Hughes shifts seats, port welcomes Barbara Winfree
Barbara Winfree, widow of Port of Orange board president Lester “Buckshot” Winfree, will fill her husband’s Precinct 2 seat until at least May, 2012.
Board members approved the nomination unanimously Monday, while Orange businessman Jerry Hughes will move from the at-large position he’s served in since the mid ‘90s to the board-elected president’s seat.
Barbara Winfree was sworn-in by port attorney Alan Sanders in a special ceremony on July 23, at the port administration offices, 120 Childers Road.
She began her term as “a good listener” in order to catch up on port business, she said. She grew up in Bloomington, Texas, and graduated from Lamar University in 1981.
She taught kindergarten at Orangefield Elementary School for 22 years and retired about 10 years ago.
Barbara said she met Buckshot at a rodeo in Robstown, Texas. They were married 46 years. Their children are Kirk Dillard, Will Winfree, Leslie Holtkamp and Elizabeth Neely.
Hughes grew up in Jacksonville, Texas, and moved with his family to Orange in the ‘50s where he graduated from Stark High School. He and his wife Loretta, married 53 years, have a son, Glenn Hughes, and two grandchildren.
The Hugheses have owned Jerry Hughes Realty since 1977. Jerry worked for 16 years at DuPont Sabine River Works as a lab analyst, and for four years with Dal Sasso Realty.
He is a member of the Texas Association of Realtors, the National Association of Realtors and the Orange County Board of Realtors. A member of Madison Lodge 126, he is a Scottish Rite 32nd Degree Mason.
He has served as director of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce and is a Lifetime Chamber Ambassador.
A member of the Rotary Club of Orange since 1976, he was voted Realtor of the Year in 1978 by the Orange County Board of Realtors. In 2007, Jerry and Loretta were honored as Small Business Persons of the Year.
Orange police chief announces retirement
After 23 years as Orange police chief, Sam Kittrell, 57, the longest head of any Orange County law enforcement agency, plans to retire by year’s end.
Reflecting on his career, he said he’s tried to take every case personally – from the smallest theft to the most heinous murder – such as the recent death of Orange businessman Mickey McNamara.
“I knelt beside him as he was dying,” Kittrell said. “Those [cases] are tough. I realize that these are people’s lives. In that brief moment, things are totally changed forever. Not only in the lives of that person and their family, but for the people responsible. They have families too.”
The unsolved 2002 murder of Dannarriah Finley will always haunt him, he said, but with the technology available today he is certain he will live to see justice done.
“I believe in all my heart we will clear that case, and that whoever sits in this chair after me has the same passions and desires as I do … I would have loved to have been here to see that happen.”
A native of Orange, Kittrell was born to Claude and Doris Kittrell and graduated from Stark High School. He grew up in the days when Orange was prosperous, only to see it bounce around on the scale of things positive and negative.
He said downtown Orange as it is today had its beginnings when the early version of Lamar State College-Orange burned to the ground. Kittrell saw the community work together to raise funds for a new campus, and as chief he helped usher in a more eye-pleasing police station nearby on Eighth Street. The addition of the Ron E. Lewis Library to the college also helped beautify the area.
Kittrell put his college career on hold when he hired on at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in 1973. Later he worked with the Vidor police.
He eventually received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Lamar University after being named Orange police chief; and for a few years also served as Orange city manager.
As for his future plans, he said, “I’m looking into a few things.”
“Most of what I consider my valuable training experience is from valuable people I’ve worked with,” he said. “People that I’ve chosen very carefully over the years to watch and learn from.”
Hankins, a man of ‘words’ is gone
Robert Hankins died on Aug. 21 listening to the Beatles. He would have something clever or funny to say about that. After all, he was a man of words, a writer.
Hankins, 48, wrote for years for newspapers in Orange County and even edited some. It was a way for him to make a living and a way for him to do the occasional witty column or creative feature story.
When he got married for the first time at age 44, he and his wife, Martha, didn’t have a traditional wedding. They went to Las Vegas for an all-Elvis event.
For more than two years, Hankins had been editor of The Record Newspapers.
The Record welcomes Nicole Gibbs
The unexpected death of editor and journalist Robert Hankins left the staff at The Record Newspapers both deeply saddened and scrambling to keep up with the day-to-day workings of the next edition. In a sudden twist of fate, a new editor was found. Nicole Gibbs has been welcomed into the open journalistic position.
Gibbs grew up in Dripping Springs, Texas but has lived in Montana and Oklahoma. She graduated from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) in Chickasha, Okla. in Dec. 2005. At USAO, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication with an emphasis on photo journalism.
Gibbs married Dustin Gibbs in 2007 and they welcomed their first child, Eryk, in Dec. 2009. Dustin is currently an employee at Akrotex Films.
Everything changes in the blink of an eye
One second he was rejoicing, the next he was gone. Reggie Garrett Jr. was a senior quarterback for West Orange -Stark High School. He threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mark Roberts, ran to the sidelines and fell to the ground.
He was put on a gurney and transported to Baptist Hospital in Orange. The game went on and no one was for sure on what was really happening. Soon, the word spread like wild fire. Reggie was gone. The stands began to empty and WOS fans began to gather in the hospital parking lot.
Devastation swept through Orange with a force that no one could have expected. People who didn’t even know Reggie wept when they heard the news. How could this happen to someone so young and physically fit? At the time, no one was for sure.
School counselors and ministers from all over the county volunteered their time to to help students at WO-S with the grieving process and continued to do so for as long as they are needed. Businesses in and around the Greater Orange area showed their support by placing blue and silver bows on their front doors posting messages on businesses expressing their sentiments. Memorial funds were set up and many schools in the area set up fund raisers to help the family with the funeral expenses.
Schools from all over the state sent paper chains to the school, each link with a different message on it and were hung on display at the Dan R. Hooks Football Stadium. His jersey number, 12, has been retired. Stickers of the number 12 were ordered and sent out to most, if not all, of the football teams in Southeast Texas to be worn on their helments.
Preliminary autopsy results ruled out a brain aneurysm and a heart attack. The coroner’s office in Beaumont could determine a cause of death and tissue samples were sent to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Two months after Garrett’s death, the final and more in-depth autopsy showed that he died from Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Toxicology reports came back clean.
ARVC is when the right side of the heart begins beating abnormally, which leads to heart failure and sudden death.
Reggie lived and died doing what he loved the most, playing football. Family, friends and strangers from all over the country mourned the loss of such a wonderful young man and extraordinary athlete. Signs saying “WOS Mustang Spirit 112%” can still be seen at homes and business in Orange.
Sept. 29 Bum Phillips day
Bum Phillips, native of Orange, celebrated his 87th birthday on Sept. 29. County Judge Carl Thibodeaux brought a motion to the Commissioners’ Court asking that Sept. 29 be known as Bum Phillips Day. All commissioners agreed.
Lions Club Carnival turns 70
Oct. 6 marked the 70th year for the Lions Club Carnival. Held each year at Orange Lions Park, located at 1802 Main Ave., the carnival was started in 1939. It has only been cancelled one year, during World War II. The event was postponed by Hurricanes Rita and Ike, but were held as soon as possible to give residents a break from hurricane repairs.
The Orange Lions Club, Orange Noon Lions, Bridge City Lions Club, Pinehurst Lions Club, Little Cypress Lions Club and Vidor Lions Club hosted this years carnival.
New plans adopted for downtown development
People in downtown Orange could stroll down a tree-lined street and watch the sun sparkle off the Sabine River as a band with singers performed a concert.
Children might play Frisbee in the grassy park or tourists could wander along a boardwalk hugging the banks of the Sabine as they learn some of the town’s long history.
After a few false starts and a some hurricanes, the Orange City Council is ready to move on getting a downtown development project built.
The design has changed once more, even since the spring, because the city bought the old Jack Tar (also known as the Orange House) Hotel this summer.
The hotel has been vacant for nearly five years and severely damaged by hurricanes Rita and Ike. The city has already awarded a contract to demolish the dilapidated building. The demolition should begin in a few weeks.
Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects of Alexandria, La., presented a new downtown master plan that has the old hotel site as one of the centers of activity. Carbo, who has designed other plans, told city council the plans drastically changed when the city got the old hotel property that is on the river.
The new plan calls for a landscaped riverfront park at the hotel site complete with an outdoor performance theater. Previously, the performance pavilion was planned for the vacant lot between Main and Front, behind City Hall. The plans also included tearing down the old city jail, that was originally the garage and servant quarters for the red brick mansion that has served as City Hall for some 65 years.
The planned riverfront park will also be across the street from the city’s new Senior Citizen Center-Meals on Wheels building. That building will be on the north lot of Division Avenue, between Fifth and Sixth Street. The lot served as the Jack Tar’s parking lot and before that, was the Holland Hotel, built in the early 1900s.
The city has received a hurricane recovery grant to pay for the Senior Citizen Center and the Studio Red Architects firm of Houston has already designed the building. However, the city hasn’t advertised for construction bids, yet.
Carbo’s plan calls for special paving of Fifth Street and trees to line the sides. He said riverfront park could be a focal point down the street and travelers on Green Avenue will be able to look down to see the park.
Also in the plans is for an expanded riverwalk-boardwalk. In 1986 for the Texas Sesquicentennial, the community and city built a riverwalk with commemorative bricks that individuals or companies bought. The riverwalk is in the Ochiltree-Inman Park along Front Street, across from Lamar State College-Orange. The riverwalk never went further because of property ownership issues.
Now, the plans call for a riverwalk to go from Ochiltree-Inman Park west and south along the curve of the river. C. Delle Bates and the Stark Foundation own the land now and are working with the city in the downtown project.
Carbo said eventually, the riverfront walk could include piers for tying up boats or for fishing.
He said the commemorative bricks can be used for the new riverwalk.
Carbo’s company has designed plans for other cities, including historic Natchitoches, Louisiana, which also has a riverfront district.
The Stark Foundation and Lamar State College-Orange have also been involved in the downtown project. Both have hired the Carbo landscape firm to design a unified plan for downtown. Leaders of both those groups have been present at all the different downtown design presentations.
Carbo said not many small towns have a downtown with such cultural and educational facilities, especially like the Luther Theater for the Performing Arts and the Stark Museum of Art.
The costs of the riverfront park with performance pavilion, along with the boardwalk could run up to $7.5 million. Orange City Council was meeting Tuesday evening with the City of Orange Economic Development Corporation to discuss what aspects of the project should be done first, and how they can be paid for.
City documents included a study to issue $6.5 million in bonds to be paid back over twenty years. The bond payments could come from a couple of city finance sources, the hotel-motel occupancy tax paid by people staying in the local hotels and the city’s special economic development sales tax that was approved by the voters in a special election nearly ten years ago.
Putnam Place completed, available for move in
Putnam Place, also known as Roselawn Manor, Inc., is now available for residents to move in. Putnam Place, located on 37th St. in Orange, next to the old Salk Elementary, is the first of its kind in Southeast Texas that will provide housing for those who suffer from chronic mental illnesses such as: depression, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, anxiety, etc.
Putnam Place was carefully designed to meet the needs of residents who are 18 years and older, without children and are looking for a safe and affordable place to live. Residents at Putnam place must provide written proof from their doctor stating they have a chronic mental illness. Residents may also be married but they must fall within HUD income guidelines.
This facility is not an assisted living center, the tenants will have to be able to live independently. Requirements for applicants are: no history of violence, no drug or alcohol addiction and no previous evictions.
It features 19 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom apartment for the resident manager. Two units are handicap accessible and one unit is accommodated for sight and/ or hearing impaired individuals. Each unit includes a living and dining room, a kitchen area, a bathroom with a linen closet and one bedroom with closet space.
There is a separate building for the office, the community room and the laundry room. The community room will be available for tenants to get together and play games, chat and just have a good time.
Strict rules and regulations concerning behavior and apartment living will be enforced. “
WO-S Elementary School dedicated on Oct. 9
Benny Smith, principal of West Orange – Stark Elementary School, and Bill Conway, interim superintendent of West Orange – Cove CISD, welcomed the community to the dedication and ribbon cutting of the new WO-S Elementary school building on Saturday, Oct. 9.
he American Flag previously flew over the U.S. Capitol and was donated by U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady. The Texas State Flag previously flew over the Texas Capitol and donated by Texas State Representative Mike Hamiliton. Both now proudly fly over the WO-S Elementary School campus.
“My theme this year has been the real Mustang,” Conway said. “And if this building doesn’t epitomize the real Mustang, I don’t know what does. Because, by it’s beauty and size, it demands respect. When you walk into the building and the classrooms, it communicates high expectations.”
The new library at WO-S Elementary has been named “The Bettie Curtis Library.”
Bettie Curtis, an Orange native, was educated in Orange County schools. She graduated from college with a degree in business education at the age of 19 and comes from a family of 13. She holds a Masters degree in business.
She has taught business educations classes in WOCCISD for 52 years. She has held leadership offices for Business Education Associations and Teacher Associations at the local and state levels. She had additionally earn Business Education Teacher of the Year and District Teacher of the Year honors multiple times.
“I teach because I have been taught,” she said. “I teach because I believe that each child is important and should have the opportunity to develop to his [or her] fullest potential. I teach because ignorance can enslave us while truth liberates.”
The gynasium was also named the “Andrew Hayes Jr Gynasium.”
Andrew Hayes Jr., a native of Port Arthur, holds a Masters in Education from McNeese State University in Lake Charles. He began his teaching career in 1959 as a science teacher and a coach. He moved to Orange to begin his service with district in 1961. He has served as a teacher, a coach, an assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent and superintendent emeritus and is now a member of the WOCCISD Board of Trustees.
The new school is located on Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. in Pinehurst and was constructed on 25 acres of property. At the beginning of construction, it was the largest facility in Orange County and the largest elementary school in the area. The school has the capacity to serve 1500 student and houses the students that formerly attended Anderson and Lorena Oates Elementary Schools. It was constructed to withstand natural disasters and to operate independently on generated power should the necessity arise.
The campus includes a 10,000 square foot cafeteria, a 4,500 square foot library, an 11,400 square foot main corridor and eighty-six 1,000 square foot classrooms located in a total of six different wing. Each grade level wing, kindergarten through fifth grade, is decorated with a unique color scheme. The campus houses two science laboratories and eight mechanical mezzanines.
The total cost of the new school is $36.5 million and an additional $490,000 was spent on new classroom, office, cafeteria and library furniture.
The doors to WO-S Elementary were opened to students on the first day of school, Aug. 23.
Jody Crump, first republican on Commissioners’ Court in OC history
The new Precinct 4 Orange County Commissioner, Jody Crump, is the first republican to hold a commissioner seat in Orange County but that doesn’t intimidate him. “It’s quite the opposite to me,” he said. “I think it is quite an honor and a privilege to be able to step into that position.
LSC-O administrator attacked
On Monday, Nov. 8 at approximately 9:45 a.m., Noah Bernard attacked Mike McNair, director of arts and science at Lamar State College – Orange.
“He has been a nuisance at the college for a while and has been asked to leave repeatedly,” McNair said. Bernard was approached by McNair and security the week before for harassing students for money for cigarettes and food. The Orange Police Department was summoned and he was escorted off campus but not before being told that he would be arrested if he returned again.
McNair saw Bernard moving quickly down the hallway in the academic center on that Monday. “I stepped out of the Dean’s office and asked the man to come with me and leave the building,” McNair said. “He attacked me, hitting me repeatedly and bloodied my nose.”
McNair quickly subdued the man until security and the OPD arrived at the scene. McNair gave a statement to the police officer of the events that took place and stated that he felt this was an act of retaliation. Charges are being filed pertaining to aggravated assaults of a state official on state property and criminal trespassing.
“The sole focus of my effort was to provide a secure and safe environment for the students and faculty of LSC-O,” McNair said. “I am thankful that the physical attack was on myself and not on my students or my faculty. As a current member of the Texas State Guard, I am very thankful for my military training and I was able to defend myself, the students and the employees of LSC-O”
McNair said that the OPD was quick to arrive on the scene. “I am proud and pleased with the Orange Police Department and the quick response by a senior police officer.”
“I’ve been overwhelmed with the support from senior administration, staff, faculty and students for showing concern of my well being and appreciation in doing my part to provide a secure educational and work environment,” McNair said.
On Dec. 8, the Orange County Grand Jury indicted Bernard on the charges of retaliation and felony assualt.
Quilters keep craft alive
The Thrift and Gift Shop has been an Orange institution since 1973. Planned Living Assistance Network (PLAN) of Southeast Texas, a program that offers services to elderly and adults of any age with mental illness, sponsored and opened the shop on 5th Street in Orange.
In September 2003, the Thrift and Gift Shop opened in one wing of the old Salk Elementary School.
The shop is a non-profit store that sells good, used clothing, craft items, books and household items. The items sold in the store are donated by those in the community. “We take almost anything as long as it’s nice and clean,” said Mary Holland, shop volunteer. Many donate items that did not sell at their garage sales. The community is encouraged to donate such items, but the items must be brought to the store.
The Shop does need volunteers to help run the store, but they also are in need of volunteers of a different nature. Twice a week, volunteer quilters meet at the shop to work on quilts for a few hours each day.
The quilters at the Thrift and Gift Shop have been quilting for more years than they can remember.
The quilters make quilts for the public and the shop. The quilts for the shop are raffle off or sold in the store. The shop raffles two quilts a year, summer and winter.
The quilts vary in price. The money made on the quilts and all of the items in the shop go back into the shop.
Purchases in the shop can be made by cash or check only.
BC Museum eyes land for park
People these days are turning to celebrating their local history and heritage. For Bridge City, that means focusing on Cow Bayou and the old swing bridge that gave the town its name.
Now, the Historical Museum of Bridge City Association is trying to acquire land on the bayou by the swing bridge to turn into a community park. The conception for the park includes a boardwalk, recreation areas, places to watch water sports like skiing, and an amphitheater.
The chosen site is about five acres of land east of Highway 87 where the old Joe Bailey’s Fish Camp was from the 1940s until it burned in 1970. The fish camp was one of the first businesses in town and a landmark.
Mark Dunn, a native of Bridge City, said the group is working through the Historical Museum which already is organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit group with tax-exempt status. The group will be able to accept donations and work to get grants for the park area.
Dunn said the board of directors has already hired a grant writer to find money to develop the waterfront project. The project could meet grant requirements in several different areas, including historic preservation, water recreation, coastal preservation and tourism.
Bridge City City Council members have voiced support for the project. Dunn said City Manager Jerry Jones and Mayor Kirk Roccaforte have talked to the owner of the land along with representatives of the community to acquire the property. The land has been vacant since Joe Bailey’s business burned 40 years ago.
The swing bridge is now one of only two similar bridges left in the state. Dunn’s effort got the Bridge City bridge a designation on the National Register of Historic Places.
Before Highway 87 and the swing bridge opened in 1941, travelers from Orange to Port Arthur had to go a longer route that went through the Orangefield area and over to what is now West Roundbunch Road.
The community was known as Prairie View and had settlers as far back as the 1830s, before Texas became an independent republic, according to a history by Charlotte Chaisson.
Until the Rainbow Bridge over the Neches River opened in 1938, people had to take a ferry across the river from Orange County to Jefferson County. The street leading up to the ferry has been called Lake Street, Ferry Road or Bailey Road, after the family that has owned property there for nearly a century.
The waterfront park will give kids and families a place to go once more to enjoy Cow Bayou, which is the heart of Bridge City.
Navy Park II celebrates grand opening on Nov. 23
Some area residents were able to celebrate the holidays in a new home with the opening of Orange Navy II. Current residents enjoyed a complete Thanksgiving dinner, compliments of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) and ITEX Property Management, LLC. All of the residents received a turkey and the gift certificate to HEB.
The grand opening and ribbon cutting was held Tuesday, Nov. 23. “It’s another great day in Orange,” said Orange Mayor Brown Claybar. “It didn’t seem like to long ago that we were here to dedicate the first set of houses renovated [at Navy Park]. You certainly can see the improvements that we have here.”
“It’s not only an economic development project, but I think we can make a difference in people’s lives by having good, safe neighborhoods and good, safe, affordable housing.”
For more information contact the property manager Kathy Jones at (409) 670-0135 or email@example.com. You can also drop by the property office located at 1885 E. Farragut in Orange.
Kittrell passes the badge to Martin
Lynwood L. (Lane) Martin was appointed as Orange’s next Chief of Police on Dec. 1.
“[I’m] very excited,” Martin said. “We have some great people with the department. I look forward to working with them in the future…serving citizens of Orange.”
According to Sam Kittrell, the current chief, Martin started at Orange police department Jan. 30, 1989 and was promoted to Captain Jan. 1998. Later he made Major in Dec. 2009.
“[I am] Absolutely delighted that the Orange Police Department is able to attract and obtain the quality of people as major Martin,” Mayor Brown Claybar said.
Martin, 43, says he doesn’t remember being anywhere else but Orange County.
From June 1, 1987 Kittrell has been the Orange police chief, yet now this chapter of his life is coming to a close to welcome a new generation.
“When I made the decision to retire my decision was made much easier because I knew that within the department there was a pool of talent that was capable of filling my position upon my retirement,” Kittrell said.
Martin graduated from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School in 1985 and in 1994 he came out of Lamar University Beaumont with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. In 1989 he finished the Lamar Regional Police Academy to go onto the FBI National Academy, Quantico, Va. in 2005. Martin holds a Master Peace Officers certificate with Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
Martin and his wife, Samantha, have three children together, two sons Zachary, 15, and Ethan, six, and a 17 year old daughter, Lauren. His parents are Lynwood and Sue Martin. The Martins are members of Little Cypress Baptist Church.
“Our goal [at the police department] is to try…to make Orange the best place possible,” Martin said.
OPD’s Robinson, Davis promoted
On Dec. 1, Chief Lane Martin promoted Captain Wade Robinson to the rank of Major and Officer James Davis to the rank of captain.
Major Robinson, 37, began his law enforcement career with the Orange County Sheriffs Department in 1992. He joined the Orange police department in 1995 and performed admirably in the both the patrol and detective divisions. In 2001, he left the department for a short time to work in the private sector but in less than a year returned to work for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as a criminal investigator. Major Robinson returned to the Orange police department in June of 2004. Upon returning, he worked in the following areas: patrol, criminal investigations and narcotics interdiction. He was also a member of the Orange County SWAT Team and the Federal Safe Streets Task Force. In September of 2010 Major Robinson was promoted to the rank of Captain and supervised the investigations division.
Major Robinson will oversee the Operations Division of the Orange police department.
Captain Davis, 36, began his law enforcement career with the United States Marine Corps in 1993 as a Military Police Officer. He joined the Orange police department in 1998 and worked in the patrol division. He left the department in August 2001 and worked for the Department of Public Safety as a State Trooper. He returned to the Orange Police Department in August of 2003. Since that time he has worked as a Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer and Criminal Investigator. He is also a firearms instructor, member of the Orange County SWAT Team and holds a Master Peace Officer Certification.
Captain Davis will be assigned as a supervisor in the patrol division.
Orange Jaycees sponsored 62nd annual Christmas Parade
The Orange Jaycees sponsored the 62nd Annual Christmas Parade on Friday, Dec. 3. The parade started in the MacArthur Shopping center, in front of the old Sears store and ended at 4th Street in front of Lamar Orange.
This year’s parade theme is “A Cowboy Christmas” and all are invited to enjoy this wonderful tradition.The Grand Marshall for this year was Sabrina Gray.
“It’s [the parade is] a long tradition” Niki Monceaux, president of the Jaycees and chairman of the parade said.
Last years Jaycees parade was canceled due to cold weather, raid and snow, and rescheduled with a new route. The Orange Jaycees is a non-profit organization, Monceaux said.
Orangefield honors beloved coach
Dec. 9 was the first day of play for the 36th annual Orangefield Varsity Basketball Tournament.
This year, there was a face missing in the crowd. Retired longtime Bobcat Coach Bill Tennison passed away in September after a courageous battle with cancer.
To honor his years of dedication, the tournament is being re-named the Bill Tennison Memorial Basketball Tournament.
Tennison started coaching at Orangefield in 1976 and continued through 1999. He mainly coached girl’s basketball but also football and track.
According to Orangefield Superintendent Phillip Welch, he modeled the Christian way without pushing religion on the students and helped promote the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Welch assisted Tennison with basketball in 1977.
This year’s tournament was held on Dec. 9-11, at the Bobcat Gymnasium. A ceremony honoring Coach Tennison was scheduled prior to the varsity girls’ first tournament game, Thursday.
Orange fire department celebrates 140 years, 50 years a career department
The Orange Fire Department (OFD) dates all the way back to 1870 when Captain W. R. Bowlin brought in a hand-powered fire wagon. There was a fire house located on 4th Street, by what is now Lamar State College-Orange. The first charter was applied for by the city of Orange in March of 1880. “By that time, they had progressed to have to horse drawn fire wagons,” said current Fire Chief David Frenzel.
The fire department started as a volunteer fire department and remained so for many years. There came a point in time where the paid fire fighters out numbered the volunteers and the city voted to disband the volunteers. On Dec. 1, 1960, the OFD became a career department. Two years later, the International Association of Local Fire Fighters Local 1442 was formed. At that time, the members of the department signed a charter. Six of the original members are still alive.
Hurricane Ike swept through and left the station built in 1946 with two and half feet of standing muddy water throughout the building. The plasters walls were so far beyond help that it would cost more to fix the building than it would to build a new one.
The fire fighters moved into the offices and warehouses by the port of Orange two years ago in November. The office building is used for administrative purposes for the chief, deputy chief, fire marshall and administrative secretary. The warehouse is used to house the trucks and equipment. There is also a trailer that is used to house the on-duty fire fighters.
The fire department is getting a hurricane relief grant from the state that is paying for the entire project.
The new building is patterned after Orange City Hall with the dark red bricks and the green roof. It will be located where the previous building stood, on Elm Street, but the city bought two lots that neighbor the property. The building is approximately 21,000 square feet with a little of 10,000 square feet on both levels. Due to the devastation of the previous building, all living quarters and administrative offices will be located on the second floor. All that will be down stairs will be engine bays. Should another storm like Ike hit this area, this allow the OFD to move the equipment out for the duration of the storm, bring it back in when the flood waters recede, hose the building out and begin again.
Moreland retired after 30 years of service
“Being an elected official is not as glamorous as some would think because when you are an elected official, all eyes are on you,” said Vergie Moreland, Orange County treasurer.
Moreland has been worked for the county for just under 30 years. She started working in 1979 in the County Auditor’s, Julia Bacom, office for four years. She then resigned to go into business for herself but came back and worked in the credit union part-time. She started working the County Treasurer’s office in 1985 and worked for six years before running for and was elected to the County Treasurer’s office in 1991.
Moreland plans on doing a bit a traveling and visiting during her retirement as well. “I hope to be able to spend some quality time with me husband,” she said. She would then like to spend some quality time with both of their son’s and their families. “Then we would like to travel,” Moreland said. “We’ve been blessed in that we’ve been able to travel quite a bit during my working years. Hopefully now we can go and stay as long as we want to as long as our funds will hold out. I won’t stay too long because I’m really a home-body and I like my roots.”
Minton’s last days
After eight years as Precinct 4 Orange County Commissioner, Beamon Minton finds himself facing the last few days as a county official. Friends and family of Commissioner Minton gathered together after the Dec. 13 Commissioner’s Court meeting to celebrate his eight years of dedicated service to Orange County.
“I hope I’ve contributed something to the betterment of the county,” Minton said. “I hope I leave it in better shape than when we came in. I’ve enjoyed the eight years of camaraderie and I’m leaving with no ill feelings and no animosity towards anyone. We’ve had some disagreements and backbiting, but we’ve all worked together and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve made a lot of life-long friends. This county is in good hands. I’m going to miss being here but I’m coming back.”
Minton explained that there aren’t immediate plans but that he’s going to enjoy a little time off.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with him. We become like brothers up here,” said County Judge Thibodeaux.
Thibodeaux presented a plaque to Minton on behalf of Orange County and cake and refreshments were served.
Ross Smith named ‘Citizen of the Year’
Ross Smith, a man who has served the Orange Community for many years, was named Citizen of the Year by the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I was just extremely honored and humbled by the fact that a lot of people that do a lot of things for good cause’s everyday felt like I deserved this award,” Smith said.
Smith is a graduate of Little Cypress High School and attended Lamar University and The University of Texas in Houston. Smith is more than just a successful business man, he’s a man that wears many hats.
Ross received the 2000 Community Builder Award from the Madison Lodge 126 AF and AM and the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, as well as the 2004 Small Business Person of the Year from the GOACC. He is a former board member of the GAOCC, Boys and Girls Club and the Boy Scouts of America (Three Rivers Council).
He owns Akrotex, Inc.; starting it in 1990. Smith is also a current board member for: Orange Savings Bank, the Lutcher Theater, the Lamar Orange Foundation, the Southeast Texas Foundation and the Salvation Army.
Smith also makes monetary contributions to Orange Christian Services, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and Southeast Texas Hospice. He also donates money to support area schools with project graduation or simply assisting an employee in need.
His wife, Eva, is also a board member of the Red Cross and the United Way in Orange.
When Smith and his wife lost their home and all of their belongings due to Hurricane Ike, they immediately went to the Salvation Army to make a large donation.
“My wife and I had four and half feet of water in our home,” he said. “Our home was totally destroyed. We lost everything. There’s was nothing we could do about our situations, but there was something we could do to help others.”
“Lord willing, if He continues to bless us, we’ll continue to do what we can.”
Sims Elementary soon to be just a memory
“You can’t go back,” said Ella Stuebing, former principal of Sims Elementary from 1988 to 2001. “You have memories that can’t be erased, feelings that can’t be erased. The way I look at it, it was a building.”
Sims Elementary School was built in 1964 and was named after Dr. E.E. Sims. On Sept. 13, 2008 the flood waters from Hurricane Ike swept through Bridge City, leaving most of the city in utter devastation. Some buildings were able to be repaired, but Sims was not.
“We’re going to go ahead and have it demolished,” said Dr. Jamey Harrison, superintendent of Bridge City Independent School District. There will be a special ceremony for decommissioning of Sims.
Current and former employees of the school, as well as alumni, were invited to attend the ceremony on Friday,