ORANGE COUNTY, Texas – Carl Thibodeaux, Orange County Judge, issued an emergency seven day burn ban for the county.

Jeff Kelley, Emergency Management director, was in Atlanta receiving updates on this year’s hurricane season. Thibodeaux said that he spoke with Kelley earlier Monday and Kelley felt that the county could hold off on passing a burn ban for the week.

However, Thibodeaux received a request from the Emergency Services District #1 in Vidor that the Judge pass a burn ban because of problems they are having in that area.

“We’ve had a couple of fires off of Linscomb Road,” Thibodeaux. “It could have gotten out of hand. It could have gotten ugly. There were some homes definitely in danger, but they were able to put it out.”

Thibodeaux explained that “the winds have not died down. It’s still pretty windy out there right now. Normally I don’t pass on the conditions we’re having right now, but since there has been a request from the ESD #1, I’m not going to take a gamble on it.”

He passed the emergency burn ban that will last for seven days. Next Monday, the Commissioners will be able to either extend or lift the burn ban.

“I’d rather err on the side of caution,” Thibodeaux said. “One good fire and we could lose the county.”

According to the emergency order, anyone violating the burn ban may be prosecuted in accordance with the Texas Disaster Act of 1975 and the Orange County Emergency Management Plan.

Shelter of Last Resort

Consultant David Waxman addressed the court about the opening of bids for the Shelter of Last Resort that is to be built on FM 1442. Waxman felt it was in the county’s best interest to table the agenda item that would award the bid until he can talk to the state. He feels that he can lower the amount of the county’s portion for the cost of building the shelter.

The state isn’t paying for the entire project because there are going to be county offices in the building that are for the general conduct of the local government. The county is obliged to pay for that portion of the building.

As it stands now, the state is paying for 57 percent of the cost while the county is left paying for 43 percent. In that 43 percent, the county will also have to pay for showers, a kitchen, sleeping spaces, etc.

Waxman feels that the county should not be held responsible for these costs because they wouldn’t need showers, a fully loaded stainless steel kitchen and sleeping spaces if they were just building new offices and not a shelter.

The Commissioners agreed to table the agenda item to give Waxman enough time to talk to the state. Thibodeaux reminded the court that they are on a deadline and have 15 months to build the structure. The item will continue to be placed on future agendas until Waxman and the state can come to some sort of agreement.

“We’ve got to build it anyway,” Thibodeaux said. “It doesn’t matter what we get back from the state.”

If everything goes as planned, Waxman will have saved the county enough money that they will have $2.6 million left after all is said and done.

Other County Business

The Commissioners approved and accepted the Interlocal Contract relating to the planning, development, operation and provision of 9-1-1 Service and use of 9-1-1 funds between Orange County and the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission.

This is a renewal of the current contract that is in place.

The amount for total bills to be paid this week totals $388,216.15 including $72,906.78 to G & G Enterprises from the general fund for the Orange County Courthouse; $63,881.43 to Schaumburg & Polk, Inc., from the general fund for the Shelter of Last Resort; and $1,150 to Claybar Funeral Home from the general fund for Indigent Funeral Expenses.

The court approved the transfer of $98 from the County Clerk’s Travel Expenses and $42 from the County Clerk’s Office Supplies to Registration, Seminars and Conferences to provide fund for the remainder of the fiscal year; and the transfer of $12,000 from the Mosquito Control’s Aerial Spraying-Chemicals and transfer it to Aerial Spraying-Aircraft Maintenance to provide fund for the remainder of the fiscal year.

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