Orange County Commissioners have tried to keep spending to a minimum, but sometimes are forced to be flexible.

One of their efforts has included not filling job openings, but on Monday during a meeting, they were forced to fill a vacancy  in the AgriLife Extension Service . The job was vacated on Dec. 6 by Marie Kenney, a county extension agent over 4-H youth development.

Dr. Dale Fritz, of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, told commissioners it is a valuable and needed position in the office. The person hired will need a minimum of bachelor’s degree and must have or be working towards a master’s degree. There is a base salary of $28,913 and a $3,000 travel allowance. A portion of the salary is paid by the state.
Fritz said he will immediately begin searching for a replacement. He hopes to have the position filled by March. But, first he will return to commissioner’s court for final approval.

Commissioners also approved a travel request for Paula Tacker and Roy Stanford to attend the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Centennial Conference Jan. 8-9 at Texas A&M University in College Station. State funds will cover hotel and travel expenses.

Dwayne Gordy, of the Community Development Education Foundation, gave a presentation to inform commissioners about the new sections of the Texas Transportation Code. Gordy stated the county could benefit from applying to the available $400,000 in funding prescribed in the legislation. However, the county must first follow guidelines. First of all, they need to create an amended road condition report. They must also create a reinvestment zone. Finally, they need to also have a transportation plan.

However, first to complete these tasks, they must also create an advisory board. The board has to consists of at least one person to represent oil and gas and at least two county taxpayers.

The county plans to hold a public hearing by the end of December.

In other county business, filing into the minutes of the court was a direct deposit from the State Comptroller of Public Accounts in the amount of $338,116. These funds represent the half cent sale and use allocation for the month of October. They have been credited to the general operating fund.

According to Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux, the county has collected about $2,000 more than this time last year.

There have not been any announcements as to any action taken on the Sheriff’s Employees Union Contract.

The court will have a special called meeting and public hearing on a new reinvestment zone at 10 a.m. Wednesday.  According to Thibodeaux, Jefferson Refining wants to set up a reinvestment zone for its location on Old Highway 90 in Vidor. The company is also requesting tax abatement. In addition, International Paper is asking for tax abatement for an expansion.

The last meeting of the year for county commissioners will be 2 p.m. Dec. 30th.