Orange County Commissioners held a special meeting on Tuesday at City Hall in Vidor. This is the second time in two years Orange County Commissioners Court was held in the City of Vidor. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

Orange County Commissioners had a change of scenery this past Tuesday as the weekly court session traveled west.

Orange County Commissioners Court was held inside the spacious meeting room of City Hall in Vidor on Tuesday afternoon to conduct routine business. This is the second time in two years that Orange County Commissioners Court traveled to the western half of Orange County for a meeting following an invitation from Vidor city leaders.

Although the meeting was basically minor business items for the commissioners, an Orange County resident informed the court of a concern she has.

Audine Rathbun, a resident of Vidor and the Agency Relations Specialist for the Southeast Texas Food Bank, said the organization regularly utilizes the Raymond Gould Community Center on the second Friday of each month to hold a soup kitchen for hungry residents in the community. The building, which is in Vidor city limits, is a county property and operated by the Orange County Parks Department.

“This building is very old and is needs to be upgraded,” Rathbun said. “We are always blowing breakers when we are preparing food. The building is so old it needs to be re-wired.”

Rathbun stated the agency has so many people attend the soup kitchen each month that the volunteers are forced to feed guests in two shifts in order to accommodate everyone.

She also stated she felt the agency should be able to have a standing reservation for the facility instead of being forced to call for a reservation each time it wishes to hold the soup kitchen because it is providing a needed service to the community.

Standing policy dictates the Community Center is available for reservations only and it is on a first come, first served basis.

According to statistics provided by Rathbun, Southeast Texas has a hunger rate of 23 percent and the rate is 21 percent in Orange County. The soup kitchen Rathbun spoke of is just one way the agency is attempting to combat hunger in the Vidor-area.

“We have a big problem, which is bigger than most people realize,” she said. “There is a great need in Orange County to feed these people, but this building is the only option we have in this community. We would appreciate it if (the court) could look into upgrading this facility.”

Since the item was not a listed agenda topic, commissioners, by law, could not directly address Rathbun’s concerns during the court session.