Dave Rogers

For The Record

Talk about friendly people and fast service.

Mauriceville will be getting a new and improved $4.4 million Market Basket grocery store as soon as Nov. 1, company president Skylar Thompson said Tuesday.

The announcement came after Orange County Commissioners agreed by a 5-0 vote to an economic incentive deal worked out with the Orange County Economic Development Corporation.

The new store will be located next to the current Market Basket near the intersection of Highways 62 and 12.

The current store suffered flooding damage due to Hurricane Harvey and has been without its bakery and meat departments since reopening, Thompson said.

“We have had some long term plans to build a replacement store and after the flood, it just made sense to accelerate those plans and build a nicer store now,” he said.

“It’ll be 50 percent increase in size. We’ll have more product offerings, a hot deli, a larger selection in Smoke House meats. It’ll just be a more complete grocery store.”

Thompson said the goal is to open by the first of November.

“But it could be Jan. 1, if we have weather or construction delays.”

That was just one of several bits of good news during Tuesday’s court session.

Ralph Valencerio, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said FEMA may be extending its program to reimburse 90 percent of storm debris removal costs from six months to a year.

The county has already paid about $5.8 million of an expected $8 million bill for removal of demolition debris generated by the flooding that came after Harvey dumped 60 or more inches of rain on Orange County.

FEMA is expected to repay 90 percent, with the Texas General Land Office handling the other 10 percent.

However, County Auditor Pennee Schmitt noted there is no timetable for reimbursement and the county has yet to receive its first dollar from FEMA.

Commissioners voted to send in the paperwork to request a six-month extension and to keep ithe county’s original debris contractors, AshBritt Environmental and Tetra Tech.

Good news is that most of the debris is gone.

“Worst case scenario is that there is less than 2,500 cubic yards [of debris] on the ground,” Valencerio said. “That’s not a lot of debris.”

Commissioners paid $278,500 in bills, including $100,000 to the EDC as the second of three payments for funding for 2017-18, and $67,000 for retiree health insurance for February.

They then OK’d the purchase of $289,000 of equipment for the road and bridge department. Most of that total — $255,000 was for a Gradall excavator.

They delayed another $440,000 in road and bridge purchases. Schmitt, who was unaware of the purchases before court began, said she needed to check on cash flow before approving the purchases.

Commissioner Barry Burton reported that the county’s application for Texas Historical Commission grants had been submitted on time.