Personnel issues took center stage at the regular meeting of the Orange County Commissioners Court on Monday afternoon.
Commissioners discussed either posting and taking applications to fill vacant department head posts or to hire longtime department employees from within.
The department heads are Mark Wimberley, operations and maintenance department director; Jill Shores, personnel department director, and Donna Minter, transportation department director.
John Banken, Precinct 3 commissioner, said if applications are taken, they would have to be taken from all over the United States.
David Dubose, Precinct 1 commissioner, he was in favor of promoting from within.
Banken said the court should try to promote those individuals in departments.
“Many, many have been loyal through the years,” Banken said. “What are the incentives to stay in a department, work there 20 years, and lose out on a top position?”
Banken added he realized there may be someone in the department who is not qualified for the position, but he encouraged commissioners to visit the departments and get to know them.
Jody Crump, Precinct 4 commissioner, said it’s not an indictment on the county employees.
“We have great employees. If our people are the most qualified…..” he said.
Banken said there is suppose to be a committee in place to handle such issues, look at applications and make a recommendation to the court.
Douglas Manning, assistant county attorney, said he has previously served on the committee in which the top three or four candidates are narrowed down in a closed meeting and a decision is made.
There is also a five day deadline to receive applications.
When the voted was taken, commissioners approved taking applications from within and from outside the departments over a five day deadline.
County Judge Brint Carlton said he wanted the best people to be selected.
Dubose voted no on all three vacant positions and favored hiring from within. Banken also voted no on one of the positions.
In another personnel matter, the court approved filling the vacant night foreman position due to the retirement of Michael Hale on January 5.
Banken said the new hire will save the county $11,000 a year because his or her salary will be less. Crump said the six-week mandatory waiting period for new hires was waived too for this position.
Lastly, a day and time for the next commissioners court meeting is still up in the air.
There will be no meeting for next Monday because Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national holiday. Carlton said he will also be out of town on Tuesday.
Carlton suggested holding the next meeting on Thursday and in Vidor if recording facilities are available such as at Vidor City Hall.
Some on the court said they couldn’t meet in Thursday but they could meet on Wednesday. Also, it was still uncertain if the meeting will be held in Vidor or in the commissioners courtroom in Orange.

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