Scales honored at commissioners’ court
Vergie Mansfield Scales turned 100 years young on Halloween. A proclamation was made Monday at Orange County Commissioners Court honoring Scales. She was raised in the Duncan Woods area of Orangefield and married Grover Scales at the age of 16. The couple had six children with one of them dying in childbirth. Still living are her son Roy Scales, and two daughters, Wanda Scales Sanders and Pam Scales Crew. Vergie was a reporter for the Orangefield-Bridge City area until 1985.
“I sure hope I live 80 percent of your life span, I’ll be tremendously thrilled,” said Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux.
Commissioners Owen Burton, Precinct 2 and Jody Crump, Precinct 4 were absent from Monday’s meeting.
The court voted on a policy change in the way sick hours are calculated to work with the new Incode X software the county has implemented. It does not change the amount of sick hours, only the way they are calculated said personnel director Jill Shores. The current method has to be done manually and can’t be reflected correctly on employee pay stubs. The change in calculation will not only give employees a more accurate accounting of sick hours, but it will also free up man-hours required to manually make the calculations.
“It’s going to be great for our office,” said Shores about the approved calculation changes.
“Employees will to be able to look at their check stub and know as of the Sunday of the pay period ending date what their balance is on sick leave.”
On the recommendation of Jeff Kelley, director of Emergency Management, the burn ban has been temporarily lifted.
“The overnight recovery that we’ve had this week, the humidity at night, has been very high. It has kept the fire danger and fuel amounts down to a reasonable level.” He said there was rain expected in the next 36 hours and after talking with the National Weather Service that morning he was willing to “roll the dice” and advise lifting the burn ban temporarily. “There are no guarantees in life, but we think we have the best opportunity of rain in the next 36 hours, than we’ve had in the last seven months.”
Kelley also reported that about one quarter of the slab at the project on FM1442 has been poured.
He informed the court it was time to renew the Orange County Hazard Mitigation Action Plan (HMAP). “The Hazard Mitigation Plan has a five year life. That mitigation plan is essentially the key that unlocks mitigation funding. The reason we have been able to get those generator grants and some of these other mitigation buyout programs is because it’s listed in our HMAP as an exercise or activity that Orange County would take or like to take if it had the funding to do so.” Kelley said it has to be updated every five years, taking out the projects you’ve done and that are adopted as a city plan and part of a larger regional plan.
“We got out in front of it, because we got a little worried and thought it was going to expire and started working on ours, alone and during that process the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission (S.E.T.R.P.C.) was able to secure some grant funding to hire a consultant to come in and do everyone’s (plan), so we jumped on with that. Since we’ve done so much work, they allowed us to go first. Ours has gone to FEMA and it has been approved by FEMA pending adoption,” said Kelley. The court voted to adopt the HMAP and Kelley will get it posted on line.
Kelley also reported on the proposed 800 Megahertz radio system for Orange County. Representatives from Motorola were present to answer questions commissioners had on the project estimated at $4.8 million. Commissioner Precinct 3 John Dubose asked if that was part of the regional radio system Sue Landry reported on recently at the S.E.T.R.P.C. meeting. Kelley said that even though that project was called ‘regional’ it did not include Orange County. He also informed the commissioners that currently the county agencies piggyback off the City of Orange’s system.
The new project would be a three site simulcast system in place in Orange County that will integrate fully with Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas. Kelley said currently, some of the equipment the county has will be noncompliant in 2015 and there are some areas of the county that does not have coverage, which can put deputies at risk in certain spots of the county because they have no radio access.
Kelley said he knew the county doesn’t have the money for the project at this time. “I think we’ve got to get there somehow.” He is suggesting a search for grant funding and application fees which would require about $6,000.
Sheriff Keith Merritt said drug seizure money can be used toward the system and said some has been used to buy new radios as needed and budgeted, that will be 2015 compliant. Unfortunately, according to Merritt, seizure money it can’t be used for grant writing and application fees.
“For what it’s worth, just to let you know, if I had $4.8 million somewhere sitting over there, I would probably use it all for this. We’re going to have to be compliant sooner or later,” said Merritt.
The commissioners decided to put the item on a future agenda where Motorola can do a complete presentation on a day the full court is present.
That would also give County Commissioner Precinct 1 David Dubose time to find out why Orange County isn’t included in the regional radio system project at S.E.T.R.P.C.
In a report on mosquito control, Patrick Beebe said service requests were 453 for the month of October–13 calls for weeks one and two; 440 for weeks three and four. “Our mosquito problem actually hit on the 17th,” said Beebe. Since it was a coastal event that happened, Beebe had been in contact with other counties and parishes along the Gulf. Harris County Mosquito Control system crashed because of the number of calls. “I was told it got real interesting,” he said.
No mosquitoes collected to date have carried any diseases including encephalitis or West Nile. Beebe said mosquito activity spiked very high in weeks three and four and dropped on Oct. 28, when there was a temperature drop.
“I’d like to say we did it with our treatments, but we had some help.” He said larval development was normal. Treatments for the month included 106,247,000 acres by vehicle; 47 treatments for larva; 54 areas treated by plane, covering 160,640,000 acres; which totaled 266,887,000 acres.
“You’re fighting a losing battle, but it’s helping,” said John Dubose.
In other business, commissioners announced Huey Allen, Nancy Ashworth, Virginia Fawcett, Laura Floyd, Lynda Gunstream and John Zercko are the six individuals nominated for the Orange County Appraisal District by the various entities. Five members have to be voted on by Nov. 25, said Thibodeaux. Orange County has 1,363 votes.
Thibodeaux says he plans to have the vote on the Nov. 21 agenda, which gives plenty of time to get the vote in by the 25th.
Commissioners also voted to pay county bills totaling $1,026,033.98, which included $579,610.58 to APAC-Texas Inc., from the general fund for road improvements.