Orange County commissioners this week were happy to sign off on some $12.3 million in disaster grant monies from the Texas Department of Rural Affairs.

About $9 million of that has been dedicated to the proposed CHAMPS (Community Hands Assemble a Multipurpose Structure) facility to be built on Farm Road 1442.

There are also funds for elevation of certain roads such as Bailey Road.

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said a workshop would be scheduled so department heads and other officials can have a say in some of the money distribution.

The CHAMPS project will provide a community center for senior citizens and youth groups, a rodeo arena/ballpark recreation area and new Emergency Operations Center for county officials, among other features.

The building will replace the Old Timers Pavilion damaged after Hurricane Rita in 2005.

Deputy constable insurance

The county will take on under its auto liability insurance certain deputy constables’ cars.

Typically reserve deputies work only sporadically and use their own vehicles, which are not marked although they do have patrol lights.

Last year, a deputy was involved in an accident while he and others were escorting buses from a game in Hunstville. He was cleared at the scene by investigators and issued no citations or tickets, yet when the insurance report came in was found partially at fault and dropped by his personal insurance carrier.

To be covered, deputy constables must be performing official county business, adhere to the Texas Transportation Code, and carry at all times personal auto liability coverage for at least the state-mandated limits and provide proof of coverage on request.

Also, they must notify county loss control if there is a change in vehicles and provide appropriate information about the vehicle to the county. The county may decline coverage for anyone deemed an “unacceptable risk or uninsurable.”

Probably three deputies per precinct office will be eligible for county insurance. That item will be considered on next week’s commissioners’ agenda.

Precinct 3 building bid rejects

Commissioners rejected an undisclosed number of bids for a new building to be used by Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Janice Menard, whose old structure was damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Thibodeaux said returned bids were too high, describing the figures as “overkill” with “carried away” specifications.

“A building just like [Precinct 2 Judge Derry] Dunn’s got is perfectly adequate for the JP 3 office,” he said.

A workshop will be set before bids are resubmitted, he said, adding the practice may become county policy regarding all new county buildings.

“We need to start doing that,” he said.