Early voting matters straightened out at commissioners’ court
Some early voting dates, times and locations were ironed out at the regular meeting of the Orange County Commissioners’ Court on Monday afternoon.
Tina Barrow, elections administrator, presented to the court changing the main early voting location for the upcoming Nov. 4, 2014 General, Constitutional Amendment and JP #2 Local Option Election from the Orange Public Library to the old West Orange-Cove CISD Administration Building at 505 N. 15th St. in Orange.
There will also be early voting on Saturday and Sunday at the main early voting location and for 12 hours of early voting be conducted on each weekday of the last week of early voting.
Barrow said the Orange Public Library won’t be open during the extra hours and WO-C CISD has graciously let the elections administration office use the old building.
Commissioners then approved other early voting locations after a lengthy discussion. Jody Crump, Precinct 4 commissioner, began by saying he doesn’t like voting on Sunday, but it’s a state mandate. County Judge Carl Thibodeaux echoed the sentiment.
Thibodeaux asked Barrow why early voting locations have to keep being changed since it’s so much work to change one. Barrow answered one of the locations, First Baptist Church of Mauriceville, has activities on one of the voting days and can’t be used. The Mauriceville Volunteer Fire Department can be used for Saturday voting, but not on Sundays.
Thibodeaux said voting hours have been extending and locations changed the entire 20 years he has been county judge.
Owen Burton, Precinct 2 commissioner, said he doesn’t think extended hours should overrule where the people have been voting.
When everything was hashed out it was agreed upon as follows:
West Orange-Cove CISD Old Administration Building, 505 N. 15th St., as the main early voting location from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, October 20 to Friday, October 24; from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 25; from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 26 and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, October 27 to Friday, October 31.
First Baptist Church of Mauriceville, 11540 Highway 12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, October 20 to Saturday, October 25; from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, October 27 to Friday, October 31.
Bridge City Public Works Building, 220 Nitsche, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, October 20 to Saturday, October 25; from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, October 27 to Friday, October 31.
The Raymond Gould Community Center, 385 Claiborne, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, October 20 to Saturday, October 25; from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, October 27 to Friday, October 31.
In other county business, no action was taken by the court in regard to setting up and appeals hearing for Parkwood Land Company and/or appointing an appeals board to hear each appeals. Commissioners said they wanted to receive more information until they make a decision.
Joel Ardoin, environmental health and code compliance officer, reported the company requested the item to be placed on the agenda to file an appeal to stop the work order. John Banken, Precinct 3 commissioner, asked what kind of authority would the appeals board have. Ardoin replied the board could overturn the decision of the compliance officer.
Thibodeaux then said the commissioners’ court would have the final say-so anyway. “Why go through the extra step?” he rhetorically asked. “Either the commissioners’ court is taking it to the district court or the landowner is taking it to the district court.” Ardoin said larger districts have an appeals court. Banken said he would like to know more about the board’s authority.
“There’s no criteria set up,” Banken said.
Thibodeaux said the commissioners’ court needs to hear the appeals because that’s the reason they were elected. “You don’t have to do this,” said Douglas Manning, assistant county attorney. “You won’t have to answer every knick-knack, patty-wack.”
Crump asked Ardoin to bring more paperwork from an existing appeals board, such as Harris County, to the commissioners to study before the next meeting on October 13.
In the July 3, 2014 edition of The Record, it was reported a Vidor businessman was sued by Orange County for loading fill material into a flood way. Douglas Manning, assistant county attorney, told the Orange County Commissioners’ Court at their meeting the lawsuit is against developer Sonny Stevenson of Parkwood Land Company for creating a public nuisance. The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court of the eastern district of Texas.
Joel Ardoin, code compliance officer, said FEMA told the county the fill material must be removed from the east bank of the Neches River at the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge on Interstate 10. Likewise, the county is suing to abate it. Ardoin said if the problem is not corrected, Orange County will be penalized by FEMA. The worst case scenario would be for county residents’ flood insurance costs to increase.
At the last commissioners’ court meeting on June 23, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jody Crump asked the court for the status of where Stevenson’s permit was in the process of approval or disapproval. Stevenson filed a request to the code compliance office on March 28, 2014. County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said no action was taken by the court, but he wanted a decision for Stevenson by the following week. Stevenson was informed this week his permit was denied.