County officials applied late Monday for the second round of Ike-related Community Development Block Grants, including a request of $5.9 million for a hurricane flood protection study that could lead to a levee system.

The county is applying for a little more than $99.5 million in grant funds that cover small business recovery, sewer system upgrades, retention ponds at Terry Gully and the Cow Bayou/Doty Ditch; and road repairs in the Waterwood and Victory Garden subdivisions.
“It’s a pretty broad spectrum but we know it’s not going to get funded 100 percent,” County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said at Monday’s commissioners’ court.

Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley said after the meeting, “On a really good day we’d be lucky to get one-third of that.”

The grants are available from the Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission. 

At least 51 percent of the total funding must be spent on low income areas, Thibodeaux said.

Officials had only two days notice and had very little time to compile requests. Kelley sent the application on his Blackberry Monday immediately after commissioners approved it (about 2:30 p.m.) He had until 3 p.m. to send it.

Kelley said everyone involved was unclear as to the grant’s time frame.

“We still haven’t received awards from our first go-round,” he said. “It’s supposed to be about 12 months from submission to award, and then a performance period which they name is typically 18 to 24 months.”

Airport mechanic on the way?

Commissioners set a workshop for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 21 to discuss whether to lease the Brown Hangar at the Orange County Airport to a Cleveland, Texas, mechanic that could bring business in.
The airport has no full-time mechanic (other than the pilot of the mosquito plane, who maintains that plane only). Precinct 1 Commissioner David Dubose, a private pilot, said the prospect, David Boudreaux, has “impressive credentials.”

“He’s serviced jets and everything of the sort,” Dubose said. The hangar, however, is in sad shape, and will have to be repaired to offer the space to Boudreaux or another renter.

“I wouldn’t take my plane to the hangar the way it looks,” Dubose said.

Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose said a mechanic “could be good for business.”

He added that there has been past discussion, he said, of a tarmac section being built from the runway to the Brown Hangar.

“I wouldn’t have a problem with it if it didn’t cost us an arm and a leg,” he said.

“Your talking about a lot of money,” Thibodeaux said. “We need to look at the numbers on how much it’s going to cost … we don’t want to lease the place for a year and [the renter] says ‘I can’t get the planes in. I can’t get this done. I’m out of here.’ But we need [a mechanic] bad and I think it would be a great asset to the county.”