Welch retires from Orangefield ISD

Date ran: March 7, 2012 – Philip Welch has been with the Orangefield ISD for over 20 years and the district superintendent for five years, but that all ended on March 6.

Philip Welch

The board of trustees named Kay Karr as the interim superintendent at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Karr said she’s honored to be named to a position to the Orangefield ISD because of the district’s positive reputation.

Karr originally hails from Lubbock. She grew up in West Texas before moving to East Texas in the Guadalupe Mountains.

She moved to Orange in 2002 after her daughter married a man from Orange. Since then, she said she’s been loving every minute spent with her grandchildren.

Welch said he largely had a veteran staff when he first began as superintendent. That changed in three to five years through retirement while new teachers were added.

He added he was proud to work with such a quality group and a new staff is in place to mature.

“Twenty years down the road, we’ll have a veteran teaching staff for another superintendent. They will be good for kids. They will be supportive and nurturing,” he said.

Another accomplishment completed under Welch’s tenure was the building of the Orangefield Cormier Museum.

He said the district will be supportive in growing the museum—something Founder Paul Cormier and his family would had wanted.

Welch will continue living in the community and be available to help the district in any way.


Patterson named lone finalist for Orangefield ISD top spot

Dr. Stephen Patterson

Date ran: June 6, 2012 – Dr. Stephen Patterson, director of curriculum and instruction, was named as the lone finalist for the superintendent post left vacant when longtime superintendent, Philip Welch, retired in March. The board of trustees conducted a special meeting the night of Friday, June 1. They met in executive session for nearly one-and-a-half hours before announcing the unanimous decision.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Patterson said. “We have great kids, a great staff and a great community here. For my first job (as a superintendent), it’s exactly what you want.”

Patterson has been with OISD for 10 years. He was assistant principal at the high school from 2002-2005, principal from 2005-2007 before becoming the director of curriculum and instruction in 2007.

He worked at West Orange-Cove CISD, Beaumont ISD and Stephen F. Austin State University prior to OISD. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Lamar University and a doctorate from SFA.

His wife’s name is Candi. They have a daughter named Meara and a son named Mack. Both children attend Orangefield Junior High School.


Four bank robberies in 2012

In 2012, the city of Orange and surrounding cities had it’s share of bank robberies.

The most recent was on Dec. 19 at the Chase bank located at 3109 North 16th Street. The suspect entered the bank and demanded money.  The man then left the bank and got into a 2000 model, Ford F-150, single cab pickup, with an undetermined amount of money.  The pickup was last observed traveling north on 16th Street towards Interstate 10 and heading towards Louisiana.

Within a few days, he was in custody in a Shreveport, La. jail on unrelated charges. Police are not releasing his name until formal charges are filed. It is believed he has committed other robberies in Louisiana.

Firestone Federal Credit Union

After more than a two month investigation, police arrested 26 year old Justin Samuel Mink of Orange County on November 11.

West Orange police officers responded to a report of a robbery at the Firestone Credit Union in West Orange on Sept. 6. Mink is accused entering the credit union and  brandishing a shotgun demanded money from the tellers.  The suspect was wearing dark colored overalls, a maroon mask covering his face and head, sunglasses and gloves on his hands when he fled the area on foot. He remains in custody.

Capital One

James Hunter Bergeron’s friend of 15 years is the person who turned him in for the Capital One bank robbery on July 27.

A bank employee reported to police she was working the drive-thru at about 10:29 a.m. and when she turned around saw Bergeron standing in line with the bank bag under his arm. She walked to the teller station and asked Bergeron if she could help him. He presented a note stating, “This is a robbery 20s and 100s there are gunmen outside that will kill us is you don’t do it” The teller attempted to take the note, but Bergeron had his finger on it and quickly took it back. The teller placed about $3,000 in the bag and he left the scene.

After being arrested a few weeks later after the robbery, he was extradited to Texas. Bond was set at $50,000 but within a few days, he posted bond and was released from the Orange County Jail. His case is still pending.

Capital One

Elizabeth Ann Hardin, 54, is accused of robbing the Capital One bank on June 21.

She is also accused of robbing The Honey Stop on June 14 and Red’s Liquor Store on June 12. The string of robberies in Orange continued with a third robbery occurring at the Capital One bank located 302 N. 5th Street.

An anonymous caller called the Orange Police Department an hour prior to the robbery and reported a woman matching the robber’s description was seen at the Lamar State College-Orange campus. Police responded to the scene but were unable to locate her. Hardin was found hiding at the Executive Inn, located at 4301 27th Street in Orange. She is now in federal custody.

Son of Staci Lisenby sentenced

Date ran online: July 11, 2012 – The son of Staci Lisenby was taken away in shackles and tears at the Orange County

The 15 year old son of Staci Lisenby begins his 20 year sentence for the murder of his mother on Feb. 20, 2011.

Courthouse July 11 after he was sentenced to twenty years for the murder of his mother.

The charges stem from an incident of a 9-1-1 call about a shooting in Feb. 2o11. Deputies arrived at the Lisenby residence located at 2478 Oilla Road in Orangefield. Investigators discovered Staci Lisenby had been shot in the head. She was transported by air ambulance to a local hospital where she died. Lisenby’s son, then 14 years old, was the only other person who was at the residence at the time of the shooting. He reported to police an intruder had come into the residence and shot her. The deputies along with other police canvassed the area and were unable to find any evidence of an intruder.

Over the course of the next several days investigators began speaking to neighbors in search of evidence and following all leads received or generated from the public.

Based on the facts, a search warrant was issued for the residence to seek evidence of property discarded. As a result, they found the key evidence which confirmed the shooting was not that of an intruder, according to information from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Hoke named ‘Person of the Year’

Date ran: April 25, 2012 – Michael Hoke, marketing director of Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, has been an educator for more than 30 years.

Michael Hoke

Since joining the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation on Aug. 1, 2002, he has given his knowledge and expertise in environmental and educational issues in furthering and facilitating the development of the Shangri La by the Stark Foundation.

It is for these reasons Hoke was named the Record’s 2012 Person of the Year.

Hoke holds advance degrees in science, education and educational supervision. He has taught students from pre-K to college levels. Since 1978, he has originated and directed programs related to science and the environment.

John Cash Smith is chairman of the officers and sits on the board of directors of the Stark Foundation.

“Michael is a unique individual because of his educational background. He’s added a lot to the job. He’s very creative and it shows in the programs he has put together. There’s nobody else around like him,” Smith said.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality selected Shangri La with the Texas Environmental Excellence Award in the education category in early April.

Holly Hanson, volunteer coordinator and tour coordinator, said Hoke is always a teacher.

“He teaches not only the kids and the adults in the group tours, but he is constantly teaching to the staff. He’s a great man to work for. He’s a motivator, a mentor and a teacher. I’m just one of hundreds who could say the same thing,” Hanson said.

OC republicans win election by a landslide 

Date ran: Nov. 7, 2012 – Across the nation, people were on the edge of their seats as election results came in and the numbers for each candidate increased along with the gap between them.

Mandy White-Rogers

In results from Orange County, indications from early on showed a clear winner in the local races.

Mandy White-Rogers(R) won by a wide margin. She received 21,610 votes while her opponent, Mike Abbott (D), had 8,454 votes.

“I’m thankful for all the support everyone has shown me. I’m blessed. I give all glory to God. He’s been with me all along. I have so many friends and family members and a long list of people I need to thank. I’m going to be writing thank you letters for a long time,” said White-Rogers. “I had just a tremendous amount of help and support.”

In the race for Precinct 1 County Commissioner, David Dubose (R) defeated James Stringer (D) with 4,214 votes to 3.287.

“There are some unfinished projects I’ll get to finish. There is more work to do,”David Dubose said. He said there is more work to do on the budget. He wanted to thank James Stringer for running a clean campaign. “It wasn’t negative, he ran his race and I ran mine.”

David Dubose

John Banken (R) defeated John Dubose (D) for County Commissioner Precinct 3 with 4,389 votes to 3,505.

“I want to thank God first, and then I want to thank the people that helped me, my family and everyone that worked hard,” said Banken. “I know there were a lot of people that worked hard for me.”

This was Banken’s third run for commissioner.

Chris Humble (R) will retain his job of Constable Precinct 1 with 4.540 votes while Sarah Jefferson-Simon (D) received 2,974 votes.

Voters chose David Cagle (R) for Constable of Precinct 2 with 4,992 votes while his opponent Lynn Arceneaux (D) fell short with 2,786 votes.

“I’m really excited about the win,” Cagle said. “I really appreciate all the support I got from my family and friends. I’m ready to go to work.”

David Cagle

Other candidates who won their races and had no opponent were:

• Troy Johnson – Judge County Court of Law No. 2

• John Kimbrough – County Attorney

• Keith Merritt – Sheriff

• Lynda Gunstream – County Tax Assessor Collector

• Courtney Burch-Arkeen – District Judge 128th District Court

• Dennis Powell – District Judge 163rd District Court

• Hollis Horton – 9th Court of Appeals District 4

• David Gaultney – 9th Court of Appeals District 3

• Allen Ritter – State Representative District 21.

• Mark Philpott – Constable Pct.3

• Weldon Peveto – Constable Pct. 4


Brandy Slaughter named BCCC president

Brandy Slaughter

Date ran: April 11, 2012 – Brandy Slaughter, Bridge City Chamber of Commerce president-elect, was named the BCCC Chamber President in April 2012.

Former President Bobby Vincent submitted a letter of resignation on April 2.

Slaughter said her goals as president is to help promote Bridge City businesses while not costing them anything to do so.

“I want to let the community to know about the businesses and what they have to offer,” she said.

Another change Slaughter implemented was to hire a part-time person to work at the chamber office while still utilizing volunteers at the office.

Slaughter was recently reelected as BCCC president for 2013.


Teen sentenced for OCSO deputy shooting

Date ran: Aug. 22, 2012 – Dillon Schlegel, 17, was sentenced August 20, by Judge Layne Walker, to 30 years in prison on capital charges of attempted murder. Prosecutors certified Schlegel as an adult on March 8 and he pleaded guilty to the charges in August.

Orange County Deputy Fred Ashworth

The charges stem from an incident on Jan. 26 as Fred Ashworth, of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, was transporting Schlegel, who was 16 years old at the time, back to the Minnie Rogers Juvenile Justice Center, in Mid-County, following a hearing in Orange. He had parked the OCSO vehicle in the sally port and was preparing to escort Schlegel into the center. Schlegel was shackled in the backseat but had managed to manipulate the handcuffs and grab Ashworth’s gun which was in the front seat of the vehicle.

A struggle ensued and Ashworth attempted to fight off the juvenile with his Taser. However,  the teen managed to  shoot Ashworth twice in the upper chest. Jailers trapped Schlegel in the sally port before he was able to make his escape. They later talked him into surrendering the gun and he was taken into custody.

Ashworth was not wearing a bullet proof vest at the time of the shooting. He required surgery for his injuries and has since returned to work.


First Baptist Church of BC gets historical marker

Date ran: Oct. 10, 2012 – First Baptist is not the name it bore when it was first organized and its history predates the 72 years it

celebrated in July. First Baptist Church has been an integral part of Bridge City’s history and has been recognized by the Texas Historical Commission. Sunday the church will unveil a new historical marker.

First Baptist Church of Bridge City dedicated a new historical marker on Oct. 14, 2012.

“The designation honors the church as an important and educational part of local history,” said Brenda Woodall, a longtime member of the church and president of the church historical committee.

Darrell Segura, a member of the Bridge City Historical Society said it put him into the historical mood. “I had to go back and dig into the history of the church. I knew some of it but I didn’t really know the deep part; the very roots, beginning of the church,” he said. “It just made me appreciate the process a whole lot more.”

Twenty-eight charter members organized the church in 1940, but services were held long before then.

The church began as many in the area did; with a traveling minister stopping by from time to time to hold services in a home or local building. The earliest church records show those services began in 1877 in a one-room schoolhouse when Bridge city was called Prairie View.

In 1894 Prairie View Church was organized by a predominantly Baptist congregation. The church was destroyed by the category four hurricane of 1915 that hit Galveston.

The congregation once again met in homes, then moved to the Prairie View School in 1923, when it was built.

In June of 1940 Central Baptist Church from Port Arthur held a vacation Bible school at Prairie View School. That, along with a five-day revival and the renewed interest in Sunday school inspired the members to organize the new church.

Blandale Baptist Church was chartered July 11, 1940 with 28 members. The first pastor for the congregation was the Rev. J.B. Perry.

“I didn’t even realize we were actually the first church (in Bridge City),” said Segura. “The First Baptist Church has been here the longest to serve the community.”

Prairie View changed its name to Bridge City following completion of the Rainbow and Cow Bayou Swing Bridges, and the church was renamed as Bridge City Baptist Church before taking its current name of First Baptist Church in 1948.

“The historical marker points to the past,” said Rev. Robert Boone. “We celebrate the past but we’re excited about the present and excited about the future in years to come.

The church is located at 200 West Round Bunch. For more information contact the church at 409-735-3581.


Cow Bayou Swing Bridge receives historical marker

Date ran: Nov. 28, 2012 – The Cow Bayou Swing Bridge in Bridge City was recognized by the Orange County Historical Commission on Dec. 1, 2012.

Cow Bayou Swing Bridge historical marker was unveiled Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012

The Cow Bayou Swing Bridge is one of only two of it’s kind remaining in Texas. Completed in 1940, the bridge was the last major project along the “Hug-the-Coast-Highway,”on the then new Texas-87. Construction began in 1939 upon completion of the Rainbow Bridge–then known as the Port Arthur-Orange bridge.

Following the dedication of the swing bridge in 1941 the town of Prairie View became known as Bridge City. The new span over Cow Bayou brought about the consolidation of the Prairie View and Winfree school districts to become Bridge City I.S.D. Near it, community, commerce and industry flourished to become the City of Bridge City in 1970.

Plans for the removal and demolition of the rare World War II era swing bridge was averted in 2007 by a citizens committee, the Bridge City Citizens for Historic Preservation. The group, co-chaired by Mark Dunn and Beverly Perry of Bridge City, campaigned to spare the bridge with the help of the Historic Bridge Foundation and the Texas Historical Commission. Ultimately, the Cow Bayou Swing Bridge would become listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, one of just six such properties in Orange County.

“The bridge has been a constant in Bridge City,” said Beverly Perry. “It’s a part of the city’s history and that’s why Mark Dunn, myself and others were so enthused to save it. We would have lived through losing the bridge, but we would have been without some of our intricate history and there’s only one other bridge in the state like it.”

The National Park Service officially named the Cow Bayou Bridge to the NRHP on May 10, 2010, joining the Rainbow Bridge, which was listed in 1996 as a Jefferson County designation.

The Cow Bayou Bridge has already undergone two phases of historic preservation and will undergo her third and final phase soon.

The third and final round will begin in the spring of 2013 and involves the rehabilitation of the swing bridge structure, pedestrian walkway, embankments, boat fender system, bridge control house (restoring it to the original 1940s look), repairs on the electrical and mechanical components, replacement of the swing span concrete deck and the installation of traffic safety systems.


Deweyville Swing Bridge named to National Register of Historic Places 

Date ran: Jan 25, 2012 – The Newton County Historical Commission and the Newton County Commissioners held dedication service on Feb. 3, 2012 for the Deweyville Swing Bridge of the Official National Register of Historic Places Plaque. The bridge is located on State Highway 12 on the Sabine River in Deweyville.

Ed Gallagher is seen at the historic Deweyville Swing Bridge.

Ed Gallagher, a member of the Newton County Historical Commission, said they have been trying for seven years to get the designation. The hold up in the process was having to rewrite Texas and Louisiana history and wait for approval from the National Park Service.

“The bridge will be in real good condition. It’s used every day,” Gallagher said. “It was unnavigable by the Coast Guard and closed to water traffic in 1995. It’s one of the last historical swing bridges left.”

The Deweyville Swing Bridge is the oldest of the existing swing bridges in the State of Texas, according to the National Park Service. It was constructed in 1938 as a work-relief construction project during the Great Depression. It joins its sister bridge, the Cow Bayou Swing Bridge on Highway 87 in Bridge City on the National Register of Historic Places.


Slacum chosen as county engineer

Date ran: April 25, 2012 – Orange County has a new county engineer.

Clark Slacum

Clark Slacum, former engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation in Orange, was chosen for the county engineer position by the Orange County Commissioners’ Court in a special closed meeting April 23. The other candidates interviewed were Kenneth Wiemers and James Layne.

“We had three highly qualified candidates,” he said. “I was thinking of longevity for the county. He’s not retired (Slacum retired from TxDOT). He’s here to go to work. He’s got to make it.

“All the candidates understand the job. I have no problem with Mr. Slacum. He knows our roads and drainage. Sometimes you’re worried about the candidates who apply but this time we had three good candidates.”

Slacum said he worked with Wiemer previously at TxDOT. Slacum previously worked for Jefferson County and the new job in Orange County has cut back on his commute since he resides in Orangefield.

Thibodeaux said it was a tough challenge deciding which one of the three candidates to hire since each is well qualified.

“It was a very tough decision. We had three highly qualified applicants. Top-notch in their fields. They all have good resumes. Two were with TxDOT. Two worked together there. Each brought something to the table. Each could had done it,” he said.


Judge Pat Clark retired

Date ran: Nov. 14, 2012 – After more than 42 years of service to the government, Judge Pat Clark is retiring. He started in the Army, went to the District Attorney’s Office, the County Court at Law, then District Judge and finally back to the County Court at Law.

Judge Pat Clark with his wife Rosalie

Clark graduated from U.T. in 1970. After taking his bar exam, the young future attorney, had his draft notice from the U.S. Army waiting for him. He was offered a direct commission and woke up one morning as a Private E-3 and the same day had become a Captain 0-3. His first cases as a lawyer were  in the Army. After his promotion, he was a Captain in the Judge Advocate General Corps until 1974.

Clark was primarily stationed with his wife and two children at Ford Hood. Prior to being discharged he received a call from the District Attorney at that time, Sharon Bearden and was offered a job. As a result, when he returned to Orange, he was hired as Bearden’s first assistant in the DAs office.

Clark continued to work in the DAs office for four years, and was going to be Bearden’s successor when he retired. But, according to Clark, he got tired of waiting and decided to run for judge of the County Court at Law. He won he position and was the judge in county court until 1980.

In 1979 he knew he wanted to become a District Judge. Judge Graham Bruce had held the position for several years and informed Clark he would be retiring. Clark then filed to run for the vacated position and ran unopposed. But, this forced him to resign from his job as county judge. While he waited, he worked as an attorney in the private sector. After winning the position, he flew to Austin to meet in Governor Bill Clemens office. The young Democrat was  interviewed by the Republican governor to make sure he could do the job. In addition, members of the local Republican Party also interviewed him.

In February 1980  Clark was appointed to serve the remainder of Bruce’s term and then start his new term. He later proudly earned the title of the “hanging judge” and every four years ran unopposed to retain his job. He remained the district judge until 2011. Clark was the longest sitting active district judge in the State of Texas.

The day after his retirement he made a full circle from where he started and was sworn in as judge of the County Court at Law. He held the position until the newly elected judge, Mandy White-Rogers, took office.

Over the years, he has seen many changes. According to Clark, the biggest changes has been the increasing number of women attorneys. When Clark started his career, there was only one woman in law school with him and once female attorney in Orange.

“What a wonderful addition it has been to the profession,” he added. “Now here I am with a female exceeding me as district judge and county court at law.”

Clark does not have any definite plans for his retirement. Although, he will file the necessary paperwork to be a visting judge, if his “brethren at the courthouse” want him to cover for them.

“Whatever the good Lord has in mind, but he hasn’t let me know yet,” Clark said.

Par Clark felt Orange County is a great place to work and live.

“It’s been a great ride for a Riverside Catholic boy,” he said.


Debbie Rawls, OC auditor, retired 

Debbie Rawls

Date Ran: Jan. 25, 2012 – County Auditor Debbie Rawls retired from Orange County on Jan. 31, 2012.

“I’m ready to do something else,” said Rawls. She is thinking about volunteering with the Salvation Army. Rawls also plans on spending time traveling to visit family in North Carolina. That’s where her sister and nieces live. “I don’t have any grandchildren yet,” she said.

Rawls joined the county as assistant auditor in 1994 and worked her way up to her to County Auditor. The department is under the direction of the district court and is funded through Orange County Commissioners Court.


Mary Johnson hired as OC auditor

Mary Johnson

Date ran: Feb. 8, 2012 – The director’s position for the office of Orange County Auditor didn’t stay vacant for very long.

Debbie Rawls retired on January 31 and the office didn’t miss a beat with hiring new auditor, Mary Johnson, who is already on the job.

Johnson is a native Texan. She and her husband have lived in Orange County for a year-and-a-half. She was a comptroller in League City for a broadband internet company and she also owned her own business setting up accounting programs for small businesses.

Johnson has a bachelors in business administration and she has always worked in accounting. This will be her first governmental accounting job.

Judge Dennis Powell of the 163rd District Court was one of the judges who hired Johnson for the position. He said in hiring her, the judges didn’t look at one single item but her experience, temperament — her sum total, that made her stand out from other applicants.

Powell added former county auditor Todd Mixon was retained by the county for preliminary screening of applicants. Five to six applicants were interviewed. No current Orange County Auditor’s office employees applied for the position.

Johnson believes her managerial experience and heading an accounting department helped her landing the job.

She said she also has a dedicated and highly trained team in the auditor’s office with lots of experience.


Rev. Harrell named BCCC’s Citizen of the Year

Rev. and Mrs. John W. Harrell

Date ran: Feb. 22, 2012 – The Rev. John Harrell was named the 2012 Bridge City Citizen of the Year by the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce at the BCCC’s annual banquet held on March 8, 2012, at the Community Center.

In a nomination letter by Harry Joe Wolf, he wrote Harrell has been a distinguished member of the community for 40 years. He has been pastor of the church since the March of 1971.

“There were 29 voting members in 1971. Since that time, the little congregation has grown to over 300 members,” Wolf wrote. “During the past 40 years, Rev. Harrell has initiated various building programs including educational facilities, a Family Life Center and the 600-seat auditorium where services are now held.”

Wolf wrote Hurricane Rita destroyed the auditorium and educational facilities. Services were held in the Family Life Center that was spared until the church was rebuilt.

During Hurricane Ike, many church members lost their homes including Rev. Harrrell, but the church was spared. Water came up to the doors of the church but none got inside.

“Through it all, Rev. Harrell was faithful to his congregation and his community, never wavering, never surrendering,” he wrote.

Rev. Harrell received an honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Religion and Theology from Southern Christian University of December of 2010.

March 2011 marked his and Mrs. Harrell’s 40th anniversary with the church. The church celebrated with a homecoming and anniversary service on March 20, 2011.


Huckaby resigns from OISD

Coach Brian Huckabay

Date ran: May 23, 2012 – Instead of an athlete being sidelined due to an injury, a coach has taken himself out of the lineup.

Brian Huckabay, head coach and athletic director, submitted a letter of resignation at the May 21 meeting of the Orangefield Independent School District board of trustees due to surgery a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s in our best interest,” Huckabay said. “I had knee replacement surgery and I need to recover from that. I didn’t want to still be recovering in late June and put the kids in a bad situation (with the start of football season) and have a distraction.”

Huckabay was assistant principal at Hull-Daisetta from 2008-2009 and the athletic director at Paul Prewitt.

Huckabay took over the Bobcat program in August 2009.


OISD hires new football coach and assistant superintendent

Date ran: June 13, 2012 – Coach Josh Smalley traded in his Cardinal red for the orange of the Bobcats.

OF Head Coach Josh Smalley

Smalley was the offensive coordinator for the Bridge City Cardinals and took over as head football coach and athletic director of Orangefield High School earlier this year. He replaced Brian Huckabay who resigned in late May.

Smalley said working in Orangefield offer him and his family an opportunity to coach without moving eight hours away from the area.

“I worked here before from 2006-2008 as offensive coordinator. I know a lot of people here,” Smalley said. “It’s a great place to be. The kids work hard, the community has a passionate fan base, the administration is good and the teaching is good.”

In addition to football, Smalley has also coached track, power lifting, basketball, baseball and softball.

Smalley said his wife is just as excited for him as he is.

Shaun McAlpin, principal of Orangefield High School, was named as assistant superintendent of business services and financial operations.


Orange selected to host 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament No. 1

The Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce announced that Orange has been selected as the host site for the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament No. 1, scheduled for March 14-17, 2013. The Bassmaster Elite Series Sabine River Challenge will air multiple times on ESPN and the Outdoor Channel, stream live on the BASSMASTER website and be featured on billboards and in Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times Magazines.

The Chamber Event Chairmen, David Jones and John Gothia, began the process of enticing the B.A.S.S. organization to the Orange area many months ago.  Several meetings and on-site visits by B.A.S.S. took place.  Also key to landing this nationally recognized event, was a financial commitment from Orange County Commissioner’s Court, the Orange County Hotel Occupancy Tax Committee and Orange County Economic Development Corporation, as well as a title sponsorship secured by the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation.

The Bassmaster Elite Series Tournaments have drawn as many as 10,000 spectators in the past. The Sabine River Challenge will kick off the 2013 Elite Series in March and is expected to have a significant impact on the Orange area economy during the tournament and a positive residual impact for years to come.

“Welcoming the Bassmaster Elite Series’ top 100 anglers to our area, along with their sponsors, family, friends, media, and several thousand B.A.S.S. members and fishing enthusiasts from around the country, is the top priority for the Chamber and our partners,” said Ida Schossow, Greater Orange Area Chamber President.  “We plan to use this as an opportunity to introduce the country to the great fishing, the friendly people, and the many hidden treasures of Orange County.   It is sure to be an exciting week full of fishing, fun, and festivities intended not only for the enjoyment of out-of-town guests, but also for area residents.”

For more information call the chamber at 409-883-3536.


Schamber named editor of The Record

Debby Schamber

Date ran: July 25, 2012 – The Record Newspaper welcomed Debby Schamber to the staff as editor in July. Schamber was raised in Kansas. She studied elementary and special education at Pittsburg State University and taught fourth grade briefly, in Kansas, but she didn’t like it.

“I have lived in Texas since 1983,” said Schamber. “I have four children. Jason, now 26, Jessica, was 21 when she died, Joshua 19 and Jordan 16.  I just celebrated one year of marriage to Curtis Herrington on July 16. “

Her first newspaper job was at the Mid County Chronicle in Nederland. “It was a temporary job while the editor was out on maternity leave. The story which got me the job was about a bluebonnet garden in the shape Texas.”

“As that job was ending I saw an ad in the paper for a full time position at a local daily. When I called I was told it wasn’t available.”

Schamber told the editor she would call him every Tuesday until he had her job ready. “Within four weeks he called and told me to bring my portfolio. I was hired and worked there for nearly five years.”

During that time she earned awards such as Star Reporter of the Year for the Associated Press, Print Media Journalist of the Year for the State of Texas, and numerous awards from the Southeast Texas Press Clubs for photos, breaking news, features and columns.

“I prefer to write stories about crimes because of my need to help people,” said Schamber.

“The victims need to have a voice. It is because of this need that I write stories on cold cases, aggravated sexual assaults, murders and things that can be devastating events for all involved,” she said.

“I am very happy to be working at the Record. I work with a great bunch of people who care about their jobs and work to put out a great newspaper we can be proud of.”


Sen. Nichols to represent OC in January 2013

Roy Dunn, Carlton “Corky” Harmon, and State Sen. Robert Nichols.

State Sen. Robert Nichols will represent District 3, which includes Orange County. in the Legislature beginning January 2013 and he has already made several trips to the county from Jacksonville since last summer.

“I like to meet new people and revisit those I have met before,” he said. “I want to open up lines of communication and understand the issues that are important to Orange County. I’m very pleased with the reception I have received. The people seem to be pleased that I’m interested.”

Senate District 3 covers 18 counties to the north and west of Orange County.


Local state representative office to close                                                                                                                  

Date ran: Oct. 31, 2012 – Because of redistricting, for the first time in many years, there will not be any elected state or federal officials with an office in Orange County after Dec. 31, 2012

In addition, Beth Rach, who has worked as a district coordinator for State Representatives Ron Lewis for 17 years and Mike Hamilton for 10 years will be out of a job.

“I have worked for two great people,” she said.

However, Rach said she hopes there will be an office placed in Orange County soon and added Senator Robert Nichols does not have an office in Orange, but does a good job taking care of Orange County. The closest state representative office is that of Allen Ritter who has an office in Nederland.

“It’s been a ride,” Rach said. “I will miss the people.”

Rach was responsible for keeping the office going while the representatives did their job in Austin. At different times she has had people work part-time or short term, but in the end, she was left to do the job.

When the citizens of Orange County had a problem, Rach listened to them and tried to help find a solution.

“ I took care of constituent concerns such as child support, insurance problems and more,” she said.

But, the hardest part was after Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2010. the devastation the storms left behind was difficult for area residents to manage. They reached out to the State Representative’s office in hopes of getting some help with their problems.

“ I will never forget the sound of the people’s voices,” Rach recalls. “ I have made some great friends  and met people I would not have met otherwise.”


Mike King

Date ran: Aug. 29, 2012 – In the headlines were reports from The Texas Education Agency which announced 44 percent of Texas school campuses met the Adequate Yearly Progress, known as the AYP, which is a federal accountability system. However, the Bridge City school district was the only public district in Orange County this year to meet the federal standards set by the U.S. Department of Education under the 2001 ‘No Child Left Behind Act.’

Mike King, BCISD superintendent,  took a stand against what he calls the “one day, one test” system.

According to King, the results from the test determine how a school does all year.

All Texas school districts and campuses are rated based on federal and state expectations. Under federal accountability, districts either meet AYP or they do not. However, under the state accountability, district campuses receive ratings such as exemplary, recognized, acceptable or unacceptable ratings.

He also said he thought at the schools which received an unacceptable rating, there may still be a lot of great things happening at the school.

During the 2011-12 school year, the state tests were changed to the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness which replaced the TAKS which had been given for the previous eight years.

Over the past three years, the federal AYP system has increased passing expectations 14 percentage points in reading/language arts and 16 percentage points in math. By the 2013-14 school year, 100 percent of students will be expected to pass both the math and reading STAAR assessments.


BC’s Bree Fontnot named Girls Cross Country Athlete of the Year

Bree Fontenot

Date ran: May 30, 2012 – Bridge City’s Bree Fontenot broke the high school’s record in the 1600m and 3200m; she broke it once on March 2 at  Vidor Track Meet  and then in turn broke that record. Fontenot ran a 5:22 in the 1600m and a 11:43 in the 3200m. She also place fifth in the state. She was recently named the Girls Cross Country Athlete of the Year by the Southeast Texas Coaches Association. She washonored at the All-Star Classic football game during the half-time show on  Saturday, June 9.


Pinehurst opens new City Hall

Date ran: Feb. 8, 2012 – The City of Pinehurst made the move to their new home official on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

The new city hall is modern, spacious, efficient and comfortable. There is ample space for the city government offices, a large area for the city council meetings with separate entrance. The police department has their offices in a separate part of the building.

After Former Mayor Permenter cut the ribbon, he said, “All right, let’s go in and party.”

Al Granger, co-owner of Granger Chevrolet, purchased the old Pinehurst City Hall in November.


Jeff Hattman, Orange’s Grand Dame of theater, takes final bow

Date ran: May 9, 2012 – It was fitting that her memorial service started at 7:37 p.m. Monday. That is the time the curtain always rises at the Orange Community Playhouse. Johnnie Faye Hattman, or “Jeff” as she was known to everyone, left to play a bigger venue Thursday, May 3 at St. Elizabeth Hospital at the age of 88.

Jeff Hattman

Her memorial tribute was held at the theater she loved and helped create. Hattman was the last living member of the founders of the Orange Community Players, Inc.

According to her only daughter, Melissa, Hattman passed away exactly five years from the day they buried her husband, Sam.

Melissa said when her father died; her mother told her she would not have to go through the process of preparing for her funeral by herself. She was true to her word. Melissa said when she opened the roll top desk; there lay a folder with her mother’s instructions.

It is a major loss to the community. Hattman was not only a director, but spent 34 years as a teacher, was instrumental in the beginning of the Young People’s Workshop and was a mentor to many. She belonged to the 9th and Elm Church of Christ, Sunset Grove Country Club and the “bridge club that didn’t play bridge.”

During her career with OCP, some of Hattman’s directorial triumphs included “Hello Dolly,” “Music Man,” “Quilters,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “South Pacific,” and the “Nunsense” series.


Sims sworn in as Mayor of Orange

Jimmy Sims sworn in as mayor

Date ran: May 23, 2012 – Former Councilman Jimmy Sims was sworn in as mayor to succeed outgoing Mayor William Brown Claybar on May 22. Other council members given the oath of office were Theresa Beauchamp for District 1, Essie Bellfield for District 3 and Charles Guillory for At-Large Position 6. Beauchamp was appointed as Mayor Pro Tem and Sims was appointed as a member of the Orange Economic Development Corporation. RECORD PHOTO: David Ball


OC Port Commissioners sworn in

Commissioner Jerry Hughes, President of the Orange County Navigation and Port District, presents newly elected Commissioner Barbara Winfree and re-elected Commissioner James A. “Jimmy” Smith with their Certificate of Election after receiving the Oath of Office at the Port’s regular Board of Commissioners Meeting on May 21.

Ms. Barbara Winfree was first appointed to the Port’s Board of Commissioners on July 23, 2010 to fill the vacancy left by her husband the late Mr. Lester  “Buckshot” Winfree.  Ms. Winfree retired in 2003 from Orangefield ISD where she served as a Teacher for 22 years. She Also is an active member of The Order of Eastern Star, Winfree Baptist Church, Texas Retired Teachers Association, Southeast Texas Independent Cattlemen’s Association and the Lower Sabine-Neches Soil and Water Conservation District #446 where she is currently serving as Secretary. Ms. Winfree is the first woman to serve on the Orange County Navigation & Port District Board of Commissioners.

Mr. James A. “Jimmy” Smith was first elected to the Orange County Navigation and Port District Board of Commissioners in 1988. Mr. Smith is the owner of Jimmy Smith Insurance Agency, in Bridge City, which he founded in 1988. Mr. Smith has served as a member of the Rotary Club of Bridge City, Sabine Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, Bridge City Lodge #1345, Scottish Rite, El Mina Shrine Temple, Orange Gun Club, Life Member NRA and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Mr. Smith was voted Bridge City Chamber Citizen of the Year in 1988.


Tuffy’s closed their doors

Date ran: April 11, 2012 – An Orange County eating establishment has closed its doors for good.


Tuffy’s Eatery at the intersection of Highways 12 and 62 in Mauriceville went out of business in in early April. The landmark Southern and Cajun food restaurant served the public for nearly 30 years.

Opened in 1985 by James and Janet Linscomb, Tuffy’s was named after Janet’s nephew, Donald “Tuffy” Bishop, who worked as the restaurant’s general manager and could often be found in the kitchen or visiting patrons, according to the restaurant’s website..

A centeries old warehouse in Louisiana provided some of the architectural antiques to the interior, including large timber beams dating to 1885.

In the summer of 2010, the restaurant entered the next chapter when new owners, Shane Johns of Mann’s Insurance Agency in Orange,  and partner, David Claybar, owner of The Old Orange Cafe, took the helm.

They kept Tuffy’s rolls, the pies and signature dishes, but also added some culinary diversity to the new menu.

Tuffy’s was put on the map by Texas Monthly’s mention of their homemade rolls.

Tuffy’s bounced back from Hurricanes Rita and Ike with the help of previous owners, State Rep. Michael Hamilton and wife Terry, and Van and Josette Choate.


City of Orange breaks ground on Riverfront Development project

Date ran: June 6, 2012 – Ground was broken on June 1 to start the city of Orange’s Riverfront Development project downtown. Those involved with the project were in attendance including former Mayor Brown Claybar and new Mayor Jimmy Sims. The project has been in the planning stages for several years. In addition to stabilizing the shore, there will also be a boardwalk and performance pavilion included. RECORD PHOTO: David Ball


New senior center in Orange

Date ran: May 23, 2012 – Shawn Oubre, city manager of the city of Orange, said the new Orange Senior Center is another example how the city was able to make lemonade out of lemons.

He borrowed the term from Mayor Brown Claybar who uses the term in reference to how the city has benefitted from disaster funding from Hurricane Ike. The city, likewise, held a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday for the new building on Fifth Street. The Orange Senior Center was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through a Hurricane Ike Recovery Grant administered by the Texas General Land Office.

He said the building is in an important location and will created synergy with the boardwalk on the Sabine River and the riverfront development project to be built. It also complements the nearby Orange Public LIbrary and Lamar State College-Orange.

The structure will be a city-owned building that is leased to Meals on Wheels, a federal program.

Linda Hughes, director of the Orange County Action Association, said the new building was the answer to their prayers.

The Orange Senior Center was the first project in the Orange Downtown revitalization program.

The Orange Senior Center is a building devoted to all senior citizens of Orange. It will house the office of the Orange Community Action Association, which administers the Southeast Texas Transit Service and Meals on Wheels in Orange County.

Meals on Wheels serves approximately 400 meals a day with most of those being delivered to homebound seniors. The previous structure serving senior citizens was the Emma Wallace Center located at 102 Turret Ave. This building was damaged beyond feasible repair by Hurricane Ike.

The Emma Wallace Center served a long and useful life but not longer meets the seniors’ needs. The new larger building will allow for expanded programs and a location for clubs and service organizations serving seniors to meet.