Tax increase likely, constable, police combine to fight drugs
County commissioners Monday called a budget workshop, heard about new anti-drug efforts between three law enforcement agencies and waded through a Vidor salvage yard issue.
The public workshop, set for 9 a.m. Friday in the commissioners’ courtroom, will focus on at last $2 million in 2008 revenues lost to the county because of Hurricane Ike.
“It doesn’t look good right now,” said County Judge Carl Thibodeaux. “Let’s be realistic. We’re not going to be dreamers to think it’s just going to go away.
“We escaped [Hurricane] Rita without any financial damage, and here we were just coming back from that when Ike came along. It’s just not pretty, and that’s all there is to it. There are some grants we’re looking into, but we’ll have to find out what is available out there.”
Precinct 2 Constable Rob Strause spoke about an agreement between his office and the Bridge City and West Orange police to increase the cities’ jurisdictions.
“This is what we call street level interdiction,” Strause said. “Basically this is catching people going from one house to another carrying drugs. If I get a call where [someone is] dealing drugs out of a house, I can send two officers and try to form some type of criminal case. Basically, we’re just multiplying our manpower.”
Precinct 2 covers a section of Vidor, and all of Pinehurst and Mauriceville, Strause said.
“All these areas have problems, not just one more than another,” he said. “But they all have drug problems, [and] I just can’t do it by myself. I’m not saying the local police aren’t doing anything. I probably get 100 e-mails a week about narcotic trafficking, and I know the city police are doing what they can. This is just an extra avenue that will be dedicated to working those areas.”
The officers will be paid by their own departments and receive training from Strause, he said.
A fenced-in storage area at Judy’s Iron and Metal in Vidor, owned by Mike Judy, saw support from Judy and some of his neighbors, plus a complaint from neighbor Woody Dugas; before the court renewed his license for a year. The business is at 5643 N. Main St.
“It’s kind of like looking for his mother-in-law to visit,” Dugas said. “He only cleans up when he has to come to court.” Dugas told Thibodeaux, “You wouldn’t like it around your place.”
From several photographs presented, County Engineer Les Anderson thought the property was in compliance, however, Thibodeaux had some problems with what he saw. Some photographs showed storage items stacked higher than the fence, he said.
When asked about the current ordinance, county legal adviser Doug Manning said, “If you want to stack it higher, you should build a higher fence.” The ordinance stipulates that owners must provide a barrier where items cannot be viewed by the public or adjacent land owners, he said.
“We had a bailer that broke down and some items came in faster than we could keep up with,” Judy said. “But we generally try to comply.”
Neighbor Jenny Smith presented a statement she said was from several other neighbors who could not attend the meeting.
It began, “We the people of Vidor are asking the court to not only give this company their license but to stop the harassment … of the company. This company benefits the community, and without them we would have to drive to Beaumont to clean up.”
Commissioner Beamon Minton, whose Precinct 4 includes most of Vidor, said he believed Judy was making an effort to comply.
“I realize that having a businesses like this in a residential neighborhood is not the most desirable place to do it,” he said.
Thibodeaux said the bottom line was that the court didn’t want to put Judy out of business.
“If I were you I’d comply,” he told Judy. “I don’t have a problem with a piece of scrap occasionally going over the line, but if it’s like that all the time – that is intentional. [I realize] you’re not going to be perfect on a daily basis.”