With rain on the way, Orange County commissioners took no action on a burn ban item in special session after hearing from Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Franklin Walters.

The county still hovers in the 500-600 range of the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, projected to rise to 600-700 (just one below the most extreme level) in a 14-day outlook.

The county is at present considered in a moderate drought, Walters said.

“The rains that Tropical Storm Alex will spawn … will hopefully bring us some relief,” he said.

Judge Carl Thibodeaux added, “We’re going to get some rain, no question about it – it’s just [a matter of] how much.”

At press time Alex was expected to attain hurricane status by the end of the week.

Claiborne oil request

Alan Prigge, representing the Magnum Producing Co. of Corpus Christi, told commissioners the company has come up with a new plan to access a proposed oil and gas drilling site in north Claiborne West Park.

Prigge told commissioners in 2009 Magnum wanted to build an access road next to the public main entrance of the park, a request the court found unacceptable.

Now the company wants to access a section of Highland Road north of the park, then build its own road to the proposed site area.

“We (the county) really don’t have access to that part of the park,” Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose said. “If we could get access to that it might really be useful to us in the future.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Owen Burton added that it was important to respect the rights and property of residents in the area.

“Sometimes when you contract to a drilling company, and I have some of this going on in Precinct 2 now – and they’re doing a lot of tearing up,” he said.

Prigge assured commissioners speed limits would be adhered to.

“They can put speed bumps or whatever they need to make sure dust is not kicked up in the yards,” he said.

A good way to solve the dust problem, Thibodeaux added, is to asphalt some sections.

The court also heard from Frank Hyatt with Campbell Crown, a logging operation which owns land-locked property near the proposed Magnum site. The present plan calls for Campbell to build a road onto the Magnum road to access a heavily-wooded area.

Commissioners said they would keep talks moving forward with both companies.

Briscoe tribute

Thibodeaux announced that under order from Gov. Rick Perry, county flags will fly at half-staff until Friday in honor of the late Dolph Briscoe, who served as Texas governor from 1972-78.

Time change
Next week’s commissioners meeting will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, as county offices will close Monday to observe July 4.