By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

Orange County returned to business as normal on Monday morning following this past week’s historic flooding of the Sabine River.

Orange County Commissioners Court met in a specially called session on Monday morning at Vidor City Hall to handle regular court business as Commissioners were unable to meet this past week due to flooding.

One of the pressing matters on Monday’s agenda was considering requests for Hotel and Occupancy Tax funds for the Mauriceville Crawfish Festival and the Texas Bar-B-Q Festival in Vidor.

The Mauriceville Crawfish Festival will be held from Friday, April 15 to Sunday, April 17 at the festival grounds on State Highway 62 and the Texas Bar-B-Q Festival will be held Thursday, April 21 to Sunday, April 24 at Conn’s Park in Vidor.

“Since the (Orange County) Economic Development Corporation has been in transition for a while and just recently situated, we have been running behind on getting the word out about taking applications for these funds,” said Barry Burton, Orange County Commissioner of Precinct 2. “So, we wanted to bring this to the court now instead of waiting, since these events are only weeks away. We want to make sure they have the funds needed in order to handle advertising and the other costs associated with the festivals.”

Organizers with the Mauriceville Crawfish Festival and organizers with the Texas Bar-B-Q Festival each requested $8,000 in HOT funds. Commissioners unanimously approved each request.

In other news, commissioners took action on two trust properties.

Lynda Gunstream, Orange County Tax Assessor-Collector, presented two trust properties to Commissioners Court which have recently received bids. The City of Vidor submitted a bid on an abandoned manufactured home and small lot at 460 Oak Lane in Vidor, which has been on the trust property roll since November 2014.

An unidentified person submitted a bid of $1,150 on a property located at 260 Blueberry in Bridge City. Although the property has only been on the trust property roll since November of 2015, Gunstream said she did not think it would move quickly and commissioners should consider accepting the bid to remove from the trust roll.

Commissioners unanimously approved the acceptance of both bids on both properties.

Tina Barrow, Orange County Elections Administrator, requested $18,300 from the contingency funds for her department citing the accounts being depleted because of expenses associated with this year’s Primary elections earlier in March.

“We are out of money in my election expense funds,” Barrow said. “We spent $18,000 on election workers between early voting and the election, and my department still have two more elections to conduct this year.”

Orange County Judge Brint Carlton stated maintaining the elections is mandated and suggested commissioners approve the request, which they did unanimously.

The May General Election for cities and school districts will be held on Saturday, May 7, and the November election, which will include the final candidates for U.S. President, will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Commissioners also approved a request by Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt for the purchase of Oxygen Forensic Detective Software for $5,995 to be used by his office.

Oxygen Forensic Detective is actually a software and hardware to extract and analyze data from mobile devices, their backups, cloud services and call data records.

“It helps us collect data on technological devices that can be used in our investigations,” Merritt said. “It’s a very important tool for our department.”

Commissioners also approved signing a letter of intent between Orange County and the Corp of Engineers on the possibility of the much discussed levee project from Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay.

“All this motion means is that we would like them to continue exploring the possibility of this project,” Carlton said of the letter to the Corps of Engineers. We are still looking at the economic viability of this project. None of this is binding. It’s just a formality and it states Orange County would like the government to continue looking at this further.”