By Dave Rogers

For The Record

Bridge City’s city council named former Bill Dixon to replace the late James Scales as municipal court judge on a unanimous vote at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The former Bridge City social studies teacher said he was approached and asked to consider the job.

“After all those years telling my students to do their civic duty – saying ‘You need to participate’ – I guess I have to put up or shut up.”

The council also voted 6-0 to approve an ordinance adopting a new boundary line for the extraterrestrial jurisdiction of the city after an earlier unanimous vote to accept what was listed on the agenda as a “boundary dispute litigation settlement agreement for the case regarding the City of Port Arthur and the City of Bridge City.”

City attorney Paul Fukuda would not discuss the litigation settlement – even to identify what was in dispute — or allow council members to comment.

The city did not make available a copy of the new ordinance as requested by the Penny Record. City Secretary Sherry Tisdale accepted a public information request from the Penny Record and said she would furnish that information within 10 days.

Both Fukuda and Mayor David Rutledge said they could neither make the ordinance nor any information regarding the settlement available, saying the settlement won’t be considered final until it is OK’d by 128th District Court Judge Courtney Arkeen.

“Until the judge says it’s over, it’s not over,” Fukuda said.

“It’s still in litigation,” Rutledge said.

Dixon taught for 33 years in the Bridge City school district and also is a retired Bridge City school teacher who announces at Cardinal baseball games in the spring.

“Two-thirds of the city either had him as a teacher or had a child in his class,” Rutledge said.

“It’s a great fit for a judge.”

Dixon will replace Scales, who died July 8, in lawnmower accident. Scales, Bridge City’s Man of the Year in 2012, was a municipal judge or assistant judge for Bridge City for 21 years.

The Bridge City Municipal Court handles all Class C misdemeanors which include all traffic citations, municipal ordinance infractions, juvenile school violations, and violations of state law for which the punishment is by fine only.

Court is open five days a week but the judge is only in on Wednesdays, according to Bridge City’s municipal website.

Dixon will fill out the remainder of Scales’ two-year term, which runs through 2018.

The office is one that must be appointed – or re-appointed – by council every two years.

“I’m very humbled by the whole thing,” Dixon said. “First, I’m in absolute shock because Jimmy was a good friend to all of us.

“This was something I never aspired to do, but when I was approached, they said ‘Think about it.’ I talked to a couple of friends who are or have been municipal judges and they told me I could do it.

“It’ll be a learning curve, and I’m obviously filling some big shoes.”

While no one would – or could – comment about the “boundary dispute litigation settlement agreement,” a previous media report has identified a 2014 lawsuit brought against Bridge City by Port Arthur.

That suit is reportedly over Humble Island, an undeveloped strip of land at the foot of the Rainbow Bridge, on the Bridge City end.

In other action Tuesday, council approved a new employee health insurance policy for 2017-18 and thanked local agent Dale Etheridge for his help.

Aetna, the county’s current insurer was asking for a 16 percent rate increase.

“Medical insurance is a mess right now,” Etheridge said. “But we looked at a lot of options and found a better plan with Blue Cross that’s only a 7 percent increase. And we were able to reduce the deductible for employees. We cut it right in half.

“This is a win-win.”