John Gothia addresses the Orange County Commissioners Court on Tuesday afternoon about a request for $10,000 in hotel occupancy tax funds to bring The BASS University 2016 Class to Orange County in January 2016. RECORD PHOTO _ TOMMY MANN, JR.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

It appears two highly successful professional bass tournaments are still paying dividends for Orange County.

Officials with The BASS University have reached out to John Gothia and other local contacts about the possibility of holding a two-day class in Orange County in early 2016. This program is highly popular and is held around the country each year.

“This is a great opportunity for Orange County,” Gothia said to commissioners. “It shows what we’ve done over the past four years with our success with the Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments we’ve held.”

Gothia’s purpose in speaking with Orange County Commissioners on Tuesday was to gain approval for a $10,000 request in hotel occupancy tax funds, which will be utilized to promote the event and attract out-of-area participants to attend the two-day class and stay in local hotels.

The BASS University is a program which allows anglers from the general public to have the opportunity to interact with some of the top professional anglers in bass fishing and learn techniques and valuable information. The program is a two-day class and is slated to be held Jan. 23-24, 2016, in Orange County.

Approximately five such classes are held from December through February each year, which is when most professional anglers are off from the tour trail and available to serve as instructors in the program. Two events are already scheduled for 2016, with one in Tulsa, Okla. in mid-January, and another in Columbus, Ohio in mid-February, according to thebassuniversity.com.

“There is always good attendance at the events. These classes average about 250 people each weekend,” Gothia added. “The one they held in Tennesee earlier this year had a large turnout, and two-thirds of those who attended were out-of-town guests.”

Barry Burton, Orange County Commissioner of Precinct 2, believes Orange County’s reputation as a fishing destination has come full-circle.

“This is a direct result of the success we have had with the Bassmaster tours,” he said.

Jody Crump, Orange County Commissioner of Precinct 4, concurred.

“I like the concept that they (The BASS University) are thinking of us and are coming to us now to hold such an event,” Crump added.

Commissioners approved the request for hotel occupancy tax funds with a 4-0 vote. Commissioner David Dubose of Precinct 1 was not in attendance on Tuesday.

Commissioners also approved action authorizing Orange County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton to sign an agreement between the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce and HeadTurner3, LLC, also known as HT3 Outdoors, to allow HT3 Outdoors to promote and conduct the 2016 Yellowfin Elite Series Classic Redfish Tournament in Orange County next year. The event will be held April 8 – April 10, 2016, at the City of Orange Boat Ramp.

In other news, fireworks retailers will now be eligible to sell their products besides the Fourth of July holiday and New Years Day. A new law has allowed counties in Texas the option of permitting fireworks retailers to sell their products, in addition to the usual two usual times each year.

Commissioners approved the item by a 4-0 vote. Fireworks permit holders may only sale their products in unincorporated areas of Orange County during these additional time periods: beginning Feb. 25 through midnight, March 2; beginning April 16 through midnight, April 21; and beginning the Wednesday before the last Monday in May and ending at midnight on the last Monday in May.