The Orangefield community may soon grow a little more after the Orange County Commissioners Court reviewed the preliminary plat of Magnolia Ranch Subdivision at their regular meeting on February 16.

Daniel Dotson with Fitz and Shipman consulting engineers and land surveyors, said the proposed new subdivision will initially have 82 lots on 80 acres. The total plat is for a maximum of 180 lots. Water and sewer service will come from the Orangefield Water Corporation from a forced main of of FM 105.

Preliminary approval for the plat has come from the city of Bridge City and the Orange County Drainage District.

John Banken, Precinct 3 commissioner, said he was concerned about drainage issues.

“The first thing people do is add culverts in front of their houses and create drainage problems. The open ditches carry at least three times more water than a pipe. There needs to be something in the deeds where they can’t add pipes to the ditches,” he said.

Jody Crump, Precinct 4 commissioner, called them cosmetic culverts.

Banken next said residents of the subdivision will request street lighting in which the county doesn’t provide. He said they will have to go to their homeowners association or do it individually.

Another concern voiced by commissioners was entering and exiting the subdivision.

Dotson said there will be entrances at Hollis Road off of FM 1442 and entrances off of FM 105.

Brazos Austin will be the developer and the project is slated to be completed in three years.

Clark Slacum, county engineer, said the subdivision will be a big benefit for the county and the Orangefield area.

“It’s a good subdivision here. We can work with them,” he said.

The commissioners tabled using courtesy buses for the 2015 BASS Masters Tournament to be held March 19-22 at the Orange Boat Ramp due to them wanting more information.

Bobby Fillyaw, director of the Orange County Economic Development Corporation, said the buses were utilized two years ago at the first tournament. He hopes this year’s event will be better attended and buses will be needed. The drivers were paid from the event’s proceeds and the county paid for the fuel.

Three buses would be needed during peak times, he said.

Several commissioners were hesitant this time with the county paying for fuel costs.

Valli Lott, transportation director, said the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission representative told her using the buses would not be allowed because they are a not-for-hire service. Fillyaw added he has been working with Shaun Davis, executive director of the SETRPC about using the buses.

Banken said $90,000 was given in Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax money for the BASS Masters Tournament and he doesn’t think the county should have to pay for the fuel, particularly when other organizations who requested HOT funds were turned down.

The court voted to table the matter until they hear from the SETRPC on using the buses and also getting a fuel estimate to sued the buses.

David Dubose, Precinct 1 commissioner, opposed tabling the item over fuel costs and he wanted approval for the buses at the meeting.

Fillyaw said he would need a decision by next week to stay on schedule for the tournament.

Commissioners also met in closed executive sessions on three agenda items.

The first involved a discussion of Montano vs. Orange County in the United States District Court for the Easter District of Texas- Beaumont Division.

No action was taken by the commissioners court.

A jury last week awarded the Montano family $2.4 million in a federal lawsuit against the county.

In a prior Record article, it read attorneys representing the family members of Robert Montano filed a lawsuit alleging Orange County employees consciously chose not to ensure that Robert Montano, who is a known mental health patient, received basic human needs, medical and mental health care, food or water.

In addition, the family along with the attorneys from the Bernsen Law Firm are sought a temporary injunction to shut down the daily activities of the Orange County Jail.

The second closed meeting involved Orange County Texas v. Coutney Patranella.

Again, no action was taken and it will be placed as a future agenda item.

The final closed meeting regarded the

 purchase, sale or exchange of real property.

The court approved the temporary use of the property until October for $199.50 per acre for a total of $2,499.93.

The commissioners approved a series of non-binding resolutions recommended by the county judge and the commissioners court about unfunded mandates from the state government to county governments.

The resolution reads the Orange County Commissioners Court’s opposition to unfunded mandates is because Texas counties are responsible for the operation and management of many and various governmental programs as required or authorized by state law. Some county government programs are fully or partially supported with funds disbursed by the State of Texas pursuant to the state appropriations process.

The State of Texas, acting through the Texas Legislature or through a state agency or executive order, mandates that counties implement certain governmental programs or perform certain duties and obligations including financial commitments by a county to expend county funds.

During each regular session of the Texas Legislature, all state funds that support county programs are reviewed through the state appropriation process and by other state budgetary review systems. The review process may result in a reduction, or cessation, of state financial support of county government programs causing an unforeseeable disruption and reduction of the county budget and operations.

Texas counties cannot achieve reliable financial planning and the necessary bond ratings sufficient to support county-related obligations when the state mandates a new program that is not fully funded or under conditions where the state reduces or fully withdraws prior funding and disbursement for county government programs.

The Orange County Commissioners Court does hereby resolve that for the foregoing reasons, it is in the best interests of Texas counties and their taxpayers to support and favor the passage of legislation in the form of an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Texas that would expressly prohibit the imposition of a mandatory governmental program on Texas counties, whether by an act of the Texas Legislature or a state agency or by executive order, unless the State of Texas has fully-funded and disbursed all necessary funds to enable Texas counties to operate said governmental program.

The following list of resolutions from the commissioners fall under opposition to unfunded mandates:

Opposition to appraisal caps and revenue caps

Opposition to diversion of dedicated funds

Opposition to a regional indigent health care system

Opposition to granting powers to municipal utility districts and special utility districts

Oppostion to any legislative action that would remove current county authoirty to regulate fireworks

State legislators providing full funding to the Emergency 9-1-1 Services Program for maintenance and improvement

Request the State of Texas implement the additional funding for mental health services

Request the Texas Legislature and the Texas Railroad Commission required that Texas counties, their citizens, and groundwater conservation districts be provided all available information concerning proposed oil and gas waste facilities in their area and a full opportunity to participate in the evaluation of any application for additional facilities

Support for Constitutional amendment for state highway fund

Requests that state law be amended to require a due process permit proceeding and approval by the local commissioners court and groundwater conservation district before any permit is granted for uranium mining

Requests the Texas Legislature provide appropriate funding for hyperbaric oxygen therapy and other medical treatment/therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Support from royalty revenue from county roads

Repeal of HB 259 for the re-establishment of local control over the premises of public buildings

Support of the extension of Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code establishing wind energy generation as a significant economic development industry in Texas

Lastly, the six-week waiting period for hiring new county employees was waived to hired a maintenance technician for the maintenance and operations department. A full-time dispatcher was also hired for the transportation department.