Orange County Commissioners voted to put new parking signs on Bailey Road in Bridge City to allow better access for emergency vehicles and others traveling the road. Currently there are signs stating no parking on the bridge, but people are parking too close to the bridge possibly inhibiting fire engines or police vehicles needing to get to the residence and business further down the road.

“Currently we do have some no parking signs up on the bridge but people are taking that too literally and just parking right at the very ends of the concrete slab,” said County Engineer Clark Slacum. “That’s still within the limits of the guard rail of the bridge and really, we need them to stay far enough back they’re not impeding traffic flowing through.”

The new signs will state no parking between signs and will be positioned near the end of the guard rail on one side of the bridge and further down, past the boat ramp on the other side. It should allow better access to the boat launch that is at the foot of the bridge and the bridge itself.

“If we can just keep people back out of that area, then they could still park on the shoulders and be far enough [out of the way] that you can drive through there and not be held up.”

Slacum said it’s not only for safety but also just to allow traffic to go through. “You get people parking on both sides, close, and it really gets too tight to drive through there.”

Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt will be allowed to offer a grace period once signs are installed, at his discretion.

“Normally we do,” said Merritt. “We look at it as the same as when we change speed limits in some neighborhoods. We don’t have a set time, but technically a week or two, or sometime three weeks, we warn people and let them get used to it. I would like the flexibility on this, if we could, also,” said the sheriff.

There was no opposition to the measure.

Newly elected County Court at Law Judge Mandy White-Rogers was bonded with approval from commissioners’ court. Commissioners also approved the purchase of Abacus Law software for White-Rogers at the cost of $4,985, which is an unbudgeted item.

“I recommend we purchase this under the capital outlay contingency [fund]. That’s what it is for,” said Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux. “I realize we’re trying to minimize expenditures this year. There’s always a question of an unbudgeted item, however, I think the worst thing this court can do is hamper a new County Court at Law judge that just got elected and has ideas of how to run her court and how to improve the services of the court.”

This is a onetime purchase with a yearly maintenance fee which should be less than $1,000 for all users of the software combined.

Commissioners also approved the exit inventory for County Court at Law, Judge Pat Clark; whom White-Rogers will replace.

Clark had decided to sit in on commissioners’ court, while waiting on the completion of paperwork. In an impromptu moment, he thanked the court for all the assistance they have given him during his 38 years of service to the county.

In other business, authorization was given for out of state travel for Ralph Valenciano to attend Hurricane Preparedness for Decision Makers Course in Miami, Fla.

“Ralph has been afforded this opportunity to attend this course at the Miami Hurricane Center. This is the premier course in the United States for hurricane awareness. It’s taught by the meteorologists of the National Hurricane Center,” said Emergency Management Director Jeff Kelley. It is by invitation only and Valenciano is one of only four individuals invited from the State of Texas this year.

“You only get one invitation and you only get to go once,” said Kelley. He and Thibodeaux have both attended the course previously.

It is an unbudgeted item, but the Orange County Local Emergency Planning Committee will fund all non-reimbursable expenses, which would include air fare and hotel expenses. The trip will be no cost to the county.

The court wishes everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Parks Director Donna Scales said Claiborne West Park will be open on Thanksgiving Day.

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.