A familiar face returned to the Orange City Council at their regular meeting Tuesday morning.

Essie Bellfield, former mayor and councilwoman, was appointed and sworn-in for the Single-Member District 3 council seat that was vacated after Councilman Jeff Holland resigned. She thanked the council and city staff for working with her.

Councilwoman Annette Pernell said appointing Bellfield is a win for the city since she’s a former mayor. Mayor Brown Claybar added the council won’t miss a beat since Bellfield served before.

Additionally, a resolution was passed canceling the May 12 General Election since no incumbents face an opponent.

The council approved the first reading of an ordinance introducing the “Buy Orange First” program.

The intent of the program is to encourage city purchases of goods and services under $50,000 form local businesses in Orange, Orange County or Jefferson County. Purchases over $50,000 will be made in accordance with the “City of Orange Purchasing Policies and Procedures Manual.”

Jay Trahan, executive director of the Orange Economic Development Corporation, said the program is an effort to maximize the effectiveness of local tax dollars by ensuring a portion of citizens’ tax dollars remain in the local economy for economic benefit of the citizens and the city. Preference may be given to a local business, providing the local business is within five percent of the low quote, but the city reserves the right to reject all quotes.

Trahan summed up the program as a good faith effort by the city to support local businesses.

The city council was supportive of the program. Claybar, however, said he liked having a written policy where everyone knows the rules, but some contractors may not bid because they think they won’t have a chance of winning the bid.

A resolution was approved naming the engineering firm of Carroll & Blackman of Beaumont as contractors for the Cooper’s Gully Pump Station, not to exceed the amount of $749,948 which is 15 percent of the total grant amount in accordance with the contract between the city and the Texas General Land Office’s Disaster Recovery Grant.

Services include a design phase, a bidding phase, a construction phase and project close-out services.

Jim Wolf, pubic woks director, said the city received $6.4 million in Round 2.1 of Hurricane Ike funding. Five million dollars is for the Cooper’s Gully Pump Station project while $1.4 million is for a street rehabilitation project on the eastern side of town.

Wolf said eight to 10 engineering firms applied for the project. The choice was narrowed down to three firms with Carroll & Blackman being chosen.

The firm has worked with Jefferson County Drainage District 6 and 7 in the past and they have also worked on pump stations identical to Cooper Gully.

Claybar said this project will be an improvement for the city, but he cautioned it will only handle casual flooding and not for flooding such as resulted from Hurricane Ike.

Likewise, the council approved a resolution naming Schaumburg & Polk of Beaumont as the contractor for East Town street improvements for $209,972 which is 15 percent of the total grant amount.

The project will run from east to west, from John Street to Main Street, and north to south from 4th Street to 10th Street.

City council approved a resolution authorizing the city of Orange to enter into a regional radio system.

Police chief L.L. Martin explained the region is switching from an analog to a digital system. The equipment is valued at $376,264 and paid for with a port security grant. Martin said the only cost involved is housing the equipment in Beaumont and having to run lines from the Beaumont site back to the Orange tower site off of FM 1078.

City Manager Shawn Oubre said these were baby steps to becoming a regional system.

A motion was approved for the OEDC to expend funds not to exceed $750,000 for the extension of water and sewer line, a lift station and force main on North FM 3247 at the Sabine River Authority Canal, west 3,150 feet along FM 3247, for the purpose of economic development.

Trahan said property owners along the roadway requested the service. The canal is near Faith United Methodist Church and the lines will run to property owned by First Baptist Church of Orange.

Trahan said First Baptist offered the city $150,000 to offset the service cost.

Oubre wanted to notify citizens the city is not endorsing a mailing from a business named Home Service who is soliciting water line service.

Trahan invited the public to attend the 10th Annual Art in the Park on Saturday, March 24. The event is free and funded by Hotel Occupancy Tax funds and the Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Fire chief David Frenzel invited everyone to the dedication and ribbon cutting for the new Central Fire Station at 2 p.m. on Friday. There will also be public tours of the station from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.