Mark Viator of Partnership Strategies along with Alfred Salizar, CEO of Jefferson Refining presented to Orange County Commissioners’ Court Monday plans to revitalize the old Independent Refining plant located in Hamshire. The refinery will be able to handle 70,000 barrels per day. They are also building a port in Brownsville that can handle 100,000 barrel barges and one at High Island that will have 150,000 barrels worth of storage and 120,000 barrels worth of barge capability.

“Jefferson County has been a tremendous help to us in the last year that we’ve been working on this project,” said Salizar. “We actually started on the project three years ago and it is getting ready to launch this coming year… and will be completed in 2013.”

They also require a deep water port and have determined the Port of Beaumont which is partially located in Orange County to be the best location. They were allocated $300 million in municipal bonds by Jefferson County two years ago for Ike redevelopment through a proclamation of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“That money has been issued to the bank and is being used for construction of these projects,” said Salizar.

“We went back to the well about six months ago and asked for an additional $200 million. That’s the issue before the court today,” said Salizar.

“These are Jefferson County Bonds. They are issued by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Corp. For us to be able to spend those in another county, we have to have an inter-jurisdictional agreement between the counties,” said Viator. He said the request needs to come from Orange County, and then Jefferson County can take action on the request.

“Perhaps as much as $70-100 million will be spent in your county,” said Salizar.

The money is not only for a deep water port, but also for a rail transload facility at the site. “Our desire is to be able to bring unit trains into the transload facility to the Port of Beaumont,” said Viator.

“Please bear in mind as we ask for this request, the Port of Beaumont has not approved this project. It is one of the projects that are being considered at this time, but for us to get to the next step we need to be able to take this action so that bonds can be potentially spent and used in Orange County; I wanted to make that clear.”

Commissioners agreed they have no problem requesting other people’s money being spent in the county. The resolution will be put on next week’s agenda with the proper wording required to take care of the issue and establish a public hearing on the matter is for 10:30 a.m., Feb. 27, at Orange County Commissioner’s Court.

In other matters, Debbie Rawls and Yvonne Gray were presented with plaques for their years of service to the Orange County Auditor’s Office. Both are retiring. Terrie Johnson has been appointed as the new county auditor effective Feb. 1. “The girls [in the auditor’s office] are very excited,” said Rawls as she introduced Johnson to commissioners. “She’s a bubbly person that likes to get things done. She’s not intimidated by computers; she’s not intimidated by the work.”

“Is she intimidated by commissioner’s court?” joked one of the commissioners.

“Heaven’s no,” said Rawls. “I think she’s going to do great.”

The commissioners welcomed her to the county.

Emergency Management Director Jeff Kelley informed commissioners that folding partitions for the 600 seat main room in the Shelter of Last Resort that had been cut when the budget was reduced will be reinstated and paid for by the state funding. Kelley said all the cutbacks put the building so far under budget that they are now able to put some of them back in and would be coming to court from time to time to inform the court as needed. He also stated the concrete walls of the structure would be erected next week probably beginning Monday.

Commissioners executed a resolution agreeing to be a grant pass-through entity for the Orangefield Water Supply Corporation if needed and supporting their efforts to obtain grant money to expand water and sewer service coverage to Victory Gardens and surrounding areas. Jon Mott from the water board said they are in the very early stages of a feasibility study on the matter.

Paula Anders was given permission to fill a driver’s position vacancy at the Transportation Department.

Permission was given to combine three small tracts of land into one at the corner of Farm Road 105 and Sawmill Road to facilitate the building of a Dollar General store just south of Pine Forest Elementary.

Bills were authorized in the total of $273,699.36, which included $25,200 to David Waxman for drawdown numbers one and two, on site sewer project.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.