Court views presentation on MARAD Layberth project
John Frazier from McCarthy Building Companies Inc. and Billy Greer from the Maritime Administration gave a slide show presentation on the MARAD Beaumont Layberth Facility construction project that will be built on the Orange County side of the Neches River. They were seeking a waiver of the permit fees for the Maritime Administration. Frazier said most of the subcontracting will be using local labor.
The facility will house up to eight government ships waiting for deployment. “They
will be kept in operational status, ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
“The facility consists mostly of mooring and a pier facility. There will be two piers house the eight ships. Most of the structures will be built out on the water. There will be a minor portion that will be out on land,” said Frazier. “The landside structures really just include a road at this time.”
Frazier said the road project is a three and a half mile road coming off Church House Road. “The roadway design is meant to accomplish 100 large trucks per day in order to load and unload the cargo should the ships need to leave for the sea.” There will be eight berths for “roll on, roll off” ships and spaces for four other types of ships according to Frazier.
Frazier said the project is set up for expansion by the government at a future time. He said there is quite a bit of electrical power onshore for this phase of the job. Later expansion may include a potable water well and sewage treatment plant. “The site will be completely self-contained,” said Frazier. They are looking at a construction window of April through December of this year. Currently they are waiting on permit from the Corps of Engineers on environmental issues to begin construction.
To show the economic impact of the project, Frasier said there will be 80 to 90 permanent employees to maintain the ships.
“These ships are owned by the federal government,” said Greer. “We will not actually load the ships here. We will be maintaining them and activating them. What we do is keep a 10 man reduced operating status crew on board. When we get the phone call to activate the ship, to load military cargo, that’s when we bring in the balance of the crew and bring in all the groceries to the ship.” Greer said the ships are not loaded with military cargo at the berth; they will sail to one of three strategic ports to load, such as Beaumont.
Frasier said the employees are seaman, but since the ships are permanently moored here, they frequently bring their families with them and live in the local economy. Also, much of the work and supplies required to maintain the ships will be acquired locally.
The facility will actually be owned by the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration.
Precinct 3 Commissioner John Banken showed great concern on the potential damage to Church House Road from large trucks traveling on it frequently.
County Engineer Clark Slacum said he didn’t foresee a problem with Church House Road.
Banken said, “I’m 100 percent for the facility, but I’m concerned about that road.”
Judge Carl Thibodeaux asked Joel Ardoin if the county has waived any fees since the Industrial permit fee was put in place. Ardoin said not to his knowledge. The fee would be around $17,000. The project has an expected cost of $34 million.
Banken moved to table the issue for one week so he can further study the issue and look at the possibility of requiring a road bond. He said a large number of heavy trucks could damage the road and the county doesn’t have the money to rebuild it. “I don’t think the citizens should have to pay for that,” said Banken.
Frazier said a one week delay would not be a problem.
In other business the court approved Commissioner Precinct 4 Jody Crump’s suggestion to implement a county austerity committee to get a head start on tackling and pinpoint budget issues before it comes time to consider next year’s budget. “I don’t want it to become a high anxiety thing, I want it to be the exact opposite,” said Crump. He said discussions in smaller groups without all the commissioners present will make people feel more relaxed where they can discuss and offer cost saving suggestions that would be brought to the court when action is needed. Commissioners appointed Crump and Banken to form the committee with a small number of department heads and elected officials they choose and may change as needed.
Thibodeaux said that would be a good way for Banken to get his feet wet and see what the county is facing. “You would get caught up pretty quickly on the budget issues we had last year.” Committee discussions could lead to workshops scheduled as issues and possible solutions come to light.
Commissioners authorized the Tax Assessor/Collector’s office to accept credit/debit cards over the counter for the payment of taxes and fees through Gov-Pay. The equipment has already been received and is in effect immediately. The county will receive the funds from Gov-Pay on a daily basis.
David Allan Roberts submitted his resignation from Orange County Emergency District #4 effective immediately.
Jan. 27 through Feb. 2 was designated as Catholic School Week. Students from St. Mary Catholic School were present to accept the proclamation.