Data and communications at the Shelter of Last Resort are expected to be complete Aug. 12, according to Mark Wimberly, county maintenance director. Furniture is being assembled and they are working on getting monitors installed.

“I honestly thought we would have them in there by this session. We should have the departments in there by the end of August,” said Wimberly. “As soon as I have an operational phone and date system working in that building, I’m going to move those departments in. We’re going to prioritize them, moving Jeff in first, then Road and Bridge, Ag and Code and Compliance.”

Wimberly said he still would like to see the on-site water well get installed, because it will be a problem if Orangefield Water Supply, who currently supplies the building losses electricity in an emergency situation. The shelter will be left without water. That project was pulled when they were cutting the budget last year to cover an expected shortfall. Wimberly says there is enough of the county’s money budgeted in the contingency line item for the building to cover the water well if commissioners would approve it. He said there was still about $400,000 of the counties money budgeted for the building and the well was bid at $150,000.

Commissioner Precinct 3 John Banken balked, but Judge Carl Thibodeaux said you have a situation where if the water supply loses power you have no water for the first responders housed at the shelter. “You’re dead in the water.”

Wimberly said he preferred having something that he had control over and didn’t have to rely on outside sources. He was frustrated, because he had no control over all the delays with the building completion.

“You’re doing the best that you can; nobody else could have done better with outside influences. Quit beating yourself up,” said Thibodeaux.

“That’s the point I was trying to make. If I had the water well, I could do something about it,” said Wimberly. If the pump broke or the motor needed replacing he could get it done.

Annual Financial Report

In other matters, Chris Pruitt of Pattillo, Brown & Hill presented Orange County Commissioners’ Court with the annual financial report for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012. The county took in $4 million in revenues more than expected and spent $2 million more than expected which balances to $2 million in the black. No problems or irregularities were found in the county finances. The report will be posted on the County Web site.

Too many buses?

Thibodeaux recommended appointing a committee to study the number of buses used by the Transportation Department as requested last week by Banken.

Besides Banken, Commissioner Precinct 1 David Dubose was also placed on the committee as he is the president of the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Committee, which supplies the majority of the funding for the Southeast Texas Transit System. Thibodeaux said he also wanted the director of the transportation department on the committee. Banken was appointed the chairman.

“He can bring anybody on that committee that he so sees fit to get the proper results that we are looking for,” said Thibodeaux.

County Employee Insurance approved

In a special session last week, Orange County Commissioners adopted a fully funded insurance with prescription coverage at $15/35/50. The county will pay 100 percent of the employee portion and 40 percent of the dependent portion.

This plan includes a $30 office visit, $150 ER, $1000 deductible, 80/20 in network, 60/40 out of network and $3000 out-of-pocket. This will be effective Oct. 1, 2013.

No Burn Ban

Jeff Kelley said the outlook is looking a little better with the rain we’ve had, so no burn ban is requested.

Evacuation Bus Agreement

If busses are needed from West Orange-Stark in an evacuation situation, the county will now provide its own drivers and pay for fuel.

Airport Maintenance

Items approved for the 2013 Routine Airport Maintenance Grant (RAMP) for the Orange County Airport included:

• Crushed Concrete for the windsock area – $1,000.00

• Replace T-12 lighting with new T-8 lighting in hanger #2 – $1,000.00

• White Paint for grass strip thresholds and wind sock area – $500.00

• Replace the old windsock with a new solar powered windsock – $6,000.00

The county and state will each pay an equal portion of $4,250.00. Total Estimated cost of the above projects is $8,500.00.

Maintenance Vacancy

Commissioners authorized Mark Wimberly to fill a vacant custodial position due to the resignation of an employee.

The court also accepted the road damage bond from Samson Exploration, LLC to ensure that any road damage done during the development of an oil well site on Woodland Ridge will be repaired without any cost to the county.

Twin Lakes Estates

A subdivision plat for Twin Lakes Estates, Phase 1 was approved. This new subdivision is located on FM 105 within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Bridge City and will be served by the Orangefield Water Supply Corp.

“It’s going to be a new upscale division,” said Clark Slacum, county engineer. “They are going to put in concrete streets. There are 44 plats with room for expansion.”

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.