FEMA officials addressed commissioners court this week concerning the request of Henry R. Stevenson to “grandfather” a dredge spoil levee located on his property on or near the Neches River. Stevenson requested the grandfathering to repair the levee that is more than 100 years old.

Last week commissioners tabled the matter until they could get some feedback from FEMA.

Jack Graham, senior compliance officer from FEMA and risk analyst Larry Boyce came to Orange County to access the matter. What they had to say isn’t what commissioners wanted to hear.

After checking the site, they determined the fill that has already been brought in is a violation of the zero rise regulation. “The  amount and type of fill is of concern,” said Graham. He warned if the violations were not addressed, it could jeopardize the counties ability to get flood insurance.

“We are obligated, since we know the fill to be there, to monitor the situation,” said Graham.

Upon inspection, the fill was found to include broken concrete, asphalt and other road building debris. “The fill that has been placed has to be removed,” said Graham.

If the situation is not rectified and the county is put on probation there will be a $50 surcharge fee added to all policies in the county. There could also be a suspension of the National Flood Insurance Program which would also impact federal mortgages, causing them to come due in full.

According to Graham, Orange County has 4,356 participants in the NFIP with $1.187 billion in coverage. There have been 1,564 paid losses in the amount of $127,281,00.

Graham said he would work with the county to come back in compliance.

Assistant County Attorney Doug Manning told commissioners he advised doing what FEMA said.

The motion of grandfathering the levee failed for lack of a second. A stop work order had previously been issued to stop the fill being brought in. The issue of ordering Stevenson to remove the fill will be brought up in a future agenda.

White-Rogers to get courtroom technology

In other business, the court authorized the purchase of audio visual equipment and related technology out of the contingency capital outlay fund. Judge Mandy White-Rogers stated the County Court at Law courtroom, previously the Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace courtroom, is not outfitted with audio visual equipment or related technology which is necessary for the presentation of evidence to the court and jurors through the exhibition of videos, power point presentations and other exhibits, during trial.

Rogers said she has four upcoming trials with the first starting Sept. 7, which is before the new budget is determined.

“I really don’t want to go through these trials without the technology,” she said. “Every courtroom in Orange County is equipped with technology but mine.” Rogers has other items needed for her courtroom, but she said those would hold over until the new budget. Two bids were submitted for the installation and purchase of the technology. Gulf Coast Audio submitted a bid of $4,570.00, while Goodyear Custom Audio bid $6,142.65. There is money in the contingency capital outlay fund to cover the request.

Tax sale scheduled

Lynda Gunstream informed commissioners there will be a tax sale Sept. 3 concerning 19 properties. She said some of the property taxes may be paid before then, which would remove them from the sale.

New signs to be installed

Commissioners authorized Road and Bridge to install the following road signs: A stop sign on Jefferson Street at the intersection with Jasper Street. Jasper Street will be the through street and have the right of way. This is the reverse of the existing layout.

In Bobcat Trails a speed limit of 20 miles per hour was established. Sign will be put up the affect East and West Ashford Park, Ashford Knoll, Ashford Chase and Sand Bar Road.

Road materials purchased

Road and Bridge was authorized to order chip seal aggregate and road base materials in the amount of $369,000, which is about $100,000 less than last year.

Sales tax money deposited

The county received $386,132.72 from the State Comptroller of Public Accounts for the half cent sales and use allocation for the month of June.

Jack Graham, FEMA senior compliance officer (left) and Larry Boyce from risk analysis address commissioners’ court concerning the  issue of grandfathering a dredge spoil levee located on property of Henry R. Stevenson. 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.