Newly elected Commissioner Precinct 3 John Banken participated in his first session of Orange County Commissioners’ Court this week. It included a photo opportunity with local school superintendents as commissioners declared January as School Board Appreciation month.

Superintendents in attendance to receive the proclamation were: Pauline Hargrove, Little Cypress-Mauriceville; Mike King, Bridge City; James Colbert Jr., West Orange Cove; and Stephen Patterson, Orangefield. Jay Kilgo from Vidor was unable to attend.

“We would like to thank you for giving proper and due recognition and appreciation to school board members,” said Hargrove. “Their jobs are one that many times you don’t see them but like you, they are behind the scenes working all the time and it’s always what’s best for the students.“ She thanked the court for supporting the testing resolution recently submitted to the state legislature.

Commissioners also approved the appointment of John Thomas, the director of Orange County Association for Retarded Citizens (OCARC) to serve as the non-profit representative on the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee that was vacated by Commissioner John Dubose. Thomas was suggested for the position by the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Committee. County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said the person filling the position must be from a non-profit organization.

Budgets for the expenditure of funds obtained by forfeiture due to criminal activity were accepted for filing. There are specific mandates for spending money acquired from gambling and drug ventures.

Approval was received for out of state travel for Jeff Kelley, Franklin Walters, Ralph Valenciano and Autumn Bradley to attend the National Hurricane Conference to be held March 25-28 in New Orleans, La.

Kelley said a lot of their certification classes are held at the conference and it is a budgeted item. He said it is more important to register early then the discounted early registration rate. Only a small block of rooms are being held at a special conference rate and you have to already be registered to receive the special room rate.

Bonds were approved for the following elected officials: County Court at Law No.2 Judge Troy Johnson; Precinct 1 Commissioner David Dubose; Precinct 3 Commissioner John Banken; Sheriff Keith Merritt; Tax Assessor Collector Lynda Gunstream; Constable Precinct 1 Chris Humble; Constable Precinct 2 David Cagle; Constable Precinct 3 Mark Philpott; and Constable Precinct 4 Weldon Peveto.

Commissioners authorized Patrick Beebe, mosquito control director, to hire a mechanic to replace James Burch who is retiring. His replacement will save the county $10,900. The position needs to be filled now, because the winter months, when spraying is discontinued, is used to run maintenance on all the equipment so it will be ready when the next mosquito season begins. Beebe said the candidate not only needs mechanical skills, but needs to be very knowledgeable in electrical work also.

It was also approved to hire a caseworker for social services. Melissa LaFleur resigned her position effective January 10.

Superintendents pictured in the front row left to right are: James Colbert Jr., WOCCISD; Pauline Hargrove, LCMCISD; Mike King, Bridge City; and Stephen Patterson, Orangefield. Pictured in back: Commissioner Precinct 2 Owen Burton; OC Judge Carl Thibodeaux, Commissioner Precinct 3 John Banken and Commissioner Precinct 4 Jody Crump. RECORD PHOTO: Penny LeLeux

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.