Monday, at Orange County Commissioners’ Court the Veterans’ Service Officer was authorized access to the Facebook network.

“The VA and all the clinics and hospitals have all gone to Facebook,” said Gene Smith. “That’s their way of communicating right now, to us and to the public.” Smith said they need the access in order to keep abreast of everything going on in the VA community.

“I haven’t been on the program, I have no idea what it does,” said Smith. He said until he looked at Facebook and evaluated it, he only wanted access for him and his assistant.

County Commissioner Precinct 3 John Dubose moved to give Smith the access and the discretion to decide who uses it at the office.

Currently there is a county-wide block of Facebook on county computers except for AgriLIFE and Emergency Management. Agencies wishing to facilitate Facebook must come to the court to gain permission. One of the reasons the county-wide ban was put in place was due to viruses associated with Facebook. So far, that has not presented a problem with the two agencies that currently have Facebook access.

Later, in his monthly report, Smith also said the veterans’ office is prepared to handle an expected increase in the near future with the rounding down of the Iraq war. Smith said the armed services are preparing to downsize to pre-war manpower which will bring the Army down to 562,000 and the Marines to 186,000. Smith said the Navy cut 50,000 over the last year and will cut another 3,000 men.

Mark Wimberley, director of the maintenance department reported that both the Adult Probation building and the Shelter of Last Resort projects are 35 percent complete. The county received a $5,000 credit on the electrical instillation in the probation building due to flex-hose being used instead of wiring being placed in conduit as shown on the specs. “There’s nothing wrong with it,” said Wimberley.

“It’s not going to affect the efficiency of the building and our grant,” asked Thibodeaux?

“Not at all,” said Wimberley. “It passes inspection; it’s really good; it’s just not the way it was specked, so we ended up getting a $5,000 credit.”

“It reduced the actual cost of the building; good,” said Thibodeaux.

Roy Stanford, AgriLIFE agent for Orange County, brought to the courts attention that the first county agriculture agent was appointed in Orange County 100 years ago. Mr. R.C. Withers was appointed in 1912. Stanford said three county agents served their careers for Orange County: Alex McKenzie – 1935-1965; Dorthy Ives – 1963-1983; and Don Kachtik – 1965-1988. Stanford also announced that Paula Tacker completes 10 years of service this week.

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux announced a workshop will be held at 10 a.m. next week on Tuesday, Jan. 17 for an update on the 299 loop project and details of a financial package presented by Cherokee Construction. Thibodeaux said it was just the first of what would be many workshops.

“The company mentioned that they supposedly are coming in with a financial package that will not cost the county any money­. We’ll wait and see,” said Thibodeaux. “They’ve been working diligently on it and they’re coming back in with some new numbers, new figures. Of course, nothing’s a done deal. We’re going to be having a lot of workshops with this particular project to make sure everybody understands fully exactly what’s going to be done, how’s it going to be paid for and what are the results of the project gonna be, before the court is asked to make a decision on it.”

In other business, commissioners authorized bills to be paid totaling $790,825.14, which included a payment of $542,990.18 to G & G Enterprises from the general fund for the Shelter of Last Resort.

Connie Cassidy, the county purchasing agent, was given permission to advertise for bids on the CIAP grant for installation of on-site sewage at various Orange area locations and instillation of tie-ins at various locations in the Vidor and Mauriceville locations.

Commissioners agreed to trade in seven vehicles for a total of $12,000 to go towards the purchase of seven vehicles for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The vehicles include a 2005 Ford Expedition, 2006 Ford F-150, 2006 Ford Crown Victoria and four 2007 Crown Victorias.

Court will be held Tuesday next week at 2 p.m. Monday is a holiday and the courthouse will be closed.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.