Clean up crews making headway
County crews have cleared about 300,000 cubic yards of debris, with some 600,000 cubic yards remaining, Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley told commissioners in regular session Monday.
A “debris hotline” has been set up for residents, who may call 670-4108, he said. More information also available at www.co.orange.tx.us/ocem.htm.
Texas Department of Transportation crews have already made one run at the debris and are expected to make another one next week, he said.
“They didn’t say how … they didn’t say if they were going to hire another contractor or stay with what they’ve got,” Kelley said.
“They didn’t elaborate.”
“There are dollars set aside for that in Austin,” said County Judge Carl Thibodeaux. “I offered them an interlocal agreement with us; they said no. That would have been the easiest way to go about it.”
Commissioner Beamon Minton asked, “So we should keep on telling our constituents to put [debris] out there?”
“Yes,” Kelley said. “But they need to get it out as fast as they can.”
In other business, commissioners approved a low estimate payment of $1,598 to cover damage to county employee Regina Cameron’s car. Some siding from the records management building fell onto it.
The county has immunity under the Texas Tort Claims Act (which covers damage caused by potholes etc.) and the incident is not recognized by the county’s insurance. Minton wondered if this would “open up a can of worms” to other claims.
“The fact that you set one claimant today does not legally bind the county to another claimant,” said attorney Doug Manning, who advises commissioners’ court.
Also at the meeting, commissioners approved five voting location changes for the Nov. 4 general election. Residents voting in boxes 1, 3, 21, 25 and 28 will go elsewhere, said Elections Administrator Tina Leverett. (See separate story this issue).
During public comments, Commissioner James Stringer asked that an issue about county employee overtime be added to the next agenda.
Last week, commissioners approved Oct. 5 as the deadline for employees to request overtime, the theory being that workers had been given sufficient time off and pay to take care of their hurricane damages and assessments. But not everyone got overtime or double-time, Stringer said.
“There were people in my precinct (Precinct 1) that took all their sick leave and vacation time and got only straight pay in return,” he said. “And when I voted for [the overtime cap], I was under the impression that everyone had received extra pay. I just think everyone should have a chance to get double-time.”