County endorses school plan for training center
The five school districts in Orange County are working with local officials to get money from the West Orange-Cove school district, usually sent to the state, to support a countywide Vocational and Technical Career Training Center.
Orange County Commissioners Court Monday approved a resolution supporting the project.
Bobby Fillyaw, Orange County Economic Development Director, said the money the West Orange-Cove school district sends to the state under the “Robin Hood” plan could come back to Orange County for the vocational training center.
The state started the controversial “Robin Hood” plan in the early 1990s to send money from “rich” school districts to poorer districts. West Orange-Cove has sent up to $7 million a year back to the state for reimbursement to other school districts. West Orange-Cove is considered “property rich” because of the chemical plants in the district.
Fillyaw said State Rep. Mike Hamilton talked to the state commissioner of education, who said the money from West Orange-Cove could stay in the county to build the training center.
“It’s our money to begin with,” he told commissioners.
Fillyaw said a proposal now has the center being constructed on county land off FM 1442 by where the CHAMPS rodeo arena and fairgrounds are planned. The center would be supported by the five school districts in Orange County, plus the Deweyville school district, he said.
Lamar State College-Orange also wants to work with the project, Fillyaw said. The college might end up owning the building for the center because the college could get credit for the building during state funding.
Now, the Orange County Vocational and Technical Career Training Center is in the planning stages.
In other business Monday, Commissioners Court agreed to form a countywide committee to advise the court on how to spend the income from the new hotel-motel occupancy tax. The tax, which began Sept. 1, can be spent only to promote tourism, according to state law.
The county had a special bill passed through the Texas Legislature allowing Orange County to have a half-cent per dollar tax on the costs of hotel-motel rooms in the county.
County Judge Carl Thibodeaux suggested each of the four precinct commissioners, along with the county judge, nominate someone for the committee. Thibodeaux said he would nominate Fillyaw, who is head of county economic development.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Owen Burton recommended having two at-large members of the committee, with at least one representing the local hotel industry.
Thibodeaux said the committee should review requests from different organizations to get grants from the tax income. Then, the committee would recommend grants to Commissioners Court. Commissioners Court will have the final decision on how the money is spent.
The city of Orange has had a similar set-up for a number of years on the hotel-motel occupancy tax collected within the city limits.
Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose said he would like to hold a workshop meeting to discuss the ways the state will allow the county to spend the hotel-motel tax money. Thibodeaux said he will set a workshop, probably for next week.
Also Monday, commissioners accepted a petition from Debbie Dugas of the Vidor area to make junk and salvage yards comply with state regulations. Dugas said she acquired 665 signatures on the petition.
Commissioners heard about the problems with another junk and salvage yard near Vidor, known as Butch’s Salvage and Garage, at 2695 Main St. County Engineer Les Anderson said the yard is not completely fenced and the fencing is not standing straight up in the areas where it exists.
Anderson has rejected a license for the yard. The owner may then appeal the decision to the county judge, who will have 30 days to review the appeal.
Earlier in March, Commissioners Court agreed to fine another Vidor area salvage yard for not meeting state rules. The fine will be dropped if the yard comes up to compliance.
State regulations require a salvage yard to be at least 1,000 feet away from the road right-of-way, plus be fenced.
Jerry Wilson of Precinct 3 told commissioners he disagrees with the county election administrator’s statistics on how many people voted twice in the March 4 party primary races. He said he has found 28 people, while she reported seven.
Last week, election administrator Tina Leverette told commissioners she had turned her list over to the district attorney’s office for review. She said most of the people who voted twice were elderly and probably confused.
Thibodeaux told Wilson he would give his list to the district attorney.