Organizations apply for city HOT money
Southeast Texas Arts Council $18,837
Heritage House $30,000
Friends of the Orange Depot $15,000
Chamber of Commerce $40,000
CVB Revised Proposed Budget $378,163
Gulf Coast Cajun-Annual Festival $3,000
Orange Trade Days $2,500
Riverfront Pavilion Alternatives $75,000
SETAC Off Ramp Magazine $2,500
Everyone seemed to come away satisfied at the Sept. 18 Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax Committee public hearing though there was limited funding for this year.
Bobby Fillyaw, committee chairman and Orange County Economic Development Corporation director, said there was a limited amount of funding and the committee would disperse funds as well as they possibly could for Orange County. All organization representatives were appreciative and supportive of the committee.
First to speak was Jerry Pennington for the Orange County Historical Commission. He said his organization has completed applications for four historical markers for next year. There is a $100 fee with the State of Texas for each marker. The cost of a marker is $1,500 for a total of $1,600.
J. David Derosier represents the Friends of the Orange Depot.
When completed, the depot will serve as the anchor for downtown development in Orange. Derosier said it will take the Friends a couple of years to get where they want to and they will hold more public events, such as Christmas lights on the depot in time for the parade, to raise visibility.
The depot will consist of a museum of industry in Orange, a gift shop and a meeting space when completed.
Roy Dunn, committee member, said the depot is one of the better projects to come along in years. “I’ve been waiting 50 years for someone to do something with that. I grew up with steam engines,” he said.
Fillyaw said the Friends may have other options available to them in the future.
Chris McCloud with the Lutcher Theater said her organization rents 300 motel rooms a year; 800 were rented last year for the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
Some in the production company stayed for two weeks in Orange and the theater expects to get them back for the 2015-2016 season. McCloud explained the Stark Foundation doesn’t pay for the entertainment which comes to the theater and funding has been cut this year by the city of Orange.
Keith Wallace, committee member, said the Lutcher Theater is the “poster child” for the way HOT money is to be spent by putting heads in beds.
McCloud said they break even on shows and grants play a big part.
Lucy Fields with the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce Historical Museum, said the Chamber continues to enhance the museum. They need funding to redo flooring and windows damaged by Hurricane Ike and to preserve historical items.
The organization would also like mannequins for early 1900s teacherage clothing, purchasing a glass top for pictures and artifacts and a 1900s stove.
Fields said the museum would like a glass display cabinet for football star, Steve Worster’s jersey and some band uniforms.
Included on the list is to repair a light post damaged by Hurricane Ike, picture frames and brochures. “We’ve had a lot of visitors and students this year. Even from out of state,” Fields said.
Rusty Benoit with Gulf Coast Cajun Chapter CFMA, said they want to give back to the community. “The money raised is kept in Orange County,” Benoit said. “We put it on for $5,000 and we raise money for the scholarship. We’re a 5013c (nonprofit organization).” He added people attend from out of town for motel rooms with all 12 CFMA chapters involved. “We know how important last year’s money was utilized. No one did a better job than Rusty,” Fillyaw said.
Greg Knost with the Conn Park complex in Vidor, said they acquired 12 and a half acres from the city of Vidor with 55 more acres to develop for ball parks, the Barbecue Festival and laying a covered concrete slab for a pavilion.
“We want to make the community a better community,” Knost said.
Donna Scales with Southeast Texas Resource, Conservation and Development, said they cover 11 counties in Texas.
They will hold their annual conference at the Expo Center in Orange at the same time of the BASS Elite Tournament in Orange next March.
“Save the date. We’ll try to get 11 county judges and state representatives there,” she said. “We’ll try to bring them to the (BASS) weigh-in.”
Scales said she has already blocked some room at the La Quinta in Bridge City.
“This is the main thing for the Expo Center to achieve events like this in Orange County,” Fillyaw said.
Elaine Hearn spoke on behalf of the Bridge City Historical Society’s Heritage Festival and 4th of July Celebration.
She said funding is needed for a sound stage, a band, food, fireworks, etc. for July 4th.
Hearn said there were 50 boats in Cow Bayou for this 4th celebration.
“It was a tremendous success,” she said. Kids activities are needed at the Heritage Festival. A block of rooms at the La Quinta have been preserved.
Dr. Stephen Patterson, superintendent of Orangefield ISD, spoke on the Orangefield Cormier Museum #1 and #2. He said they have had 10,000 visitors since they first opened, some as far away as San Antonio and Louisiana including tour bus groups.
The museum also participated last year’s Christmas parade and festival and the 100th year anniversary of the first oil well drilled in Orangefield.
Plans are two connect the two separate building into one museum and replace the two aging air conditioners.
Fillyaw said there are artifacts in the museum that need cooling to be preserved such as the antique telephone switchboard that needs climate control.
Debbie Cole is with the Vidor Chamber of Commerce and the Barbecue Festival. She called it the biggest party in Vidor with teams coming in as far away as from Mississippi, Louisiana and San Antonio.
“This is our 34th festival and we need all the help we can get,” she said.
Fillyaw concluded the public hearing by saying they went through all of the applications carefully.
Dunn said he wished in some cases they could had done more. “Maybe it will be better next year,” he said.
The applications were approved by the committee and turned in to the Orange County Commissioners’ Court at their meeting on Monday in which they were approved.