Orange County Commissioners pose with representatives of C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Child Advocates) and Child Protective Services on Tuesday afternoon after commissioners proclaimed April as “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Orange County. C.A.S.A. will hold a candlelight vigil at 7:15 p.m., Monday, April 25, on the grounds in front of the Orange County Courthouse to honor the 171 children who died in Texas in 2015 due to child abuse or neglect. The public is invited to attend.  Photo by Tommy Mann Jr. 

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

Although the much debated Loop 299 project is not an official project at this time, Commissioners approved a measure Tuesday pertaining to pre-planning work by an outside agency.

Orange County Commissioners met Tuesday afternoon in a special session of court to handle much routine business, but one of the key agenda items during Tuesday’s session including the highly debated Loop 299 project which, in theory, would create an alternate route from Interstate 10 in the Rose City-area northward to Pine Forest and one proposed plan even has called for the creation of a toll road project.

The purpose of Tuesday’s action is to allow the group Strategic Planning and Program Development, Inc., (SPPDI), which is experienced in innovative funding measures for government entities, to begin the very early phase of pre-planning to even determine if the project is fundable.

“This is just a work authorization to be executed under the contract we have in place and move forward on the pre-project phase,” Young said. “This will allow us to start discussions with TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) and to start the process with financial packages on how to fund the project.”

Orange County Judge Brint Carlton inquired as to how this work authorization would impact the county financially under the contract with SPPDI, which was put in place in late-February.

“The is no financial obligation from Orange County at this time, and there will be none if the project is not approved to move forward,” Young added.

In other news, the office of David Peck, Orange County Justice of the Peace of Precinct 1, will soon be assuming the task of keeping Vital Statistics Records currently done by the City of Orange. The Precinct 1 office already performs this task, which is the keeping of records pertaining to births and deaths, for its precinct residents but will begin doing so very soon for the city residents, which are already residents of Precinct 1.

“We are already the registrar for Precinct 1 with the State of Texas,” said Donna Granger, coordinator of Justice of the Peace office in Precinct 1. “This move will help to centralize the location for people who are looking for birth or death certificates for the county and in the state.”

Commissioners approved the request and also approved the transfer of $4,500 from a contingency account for data transfer services for the birth and death certificates, as well as $2,800 into a printing and binding account for these certificate types.

Commissioners proclaimed April as “Child Abuse Prevention Month” on behalf of C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Child Advocates) and Child Protective Services.

“Every day needs to be Child Prevention Day in Texas,” said Sherri Pulliam, media spokesperson for Child Protective Services. “In Orange County, we had 870 investigations into child abuse and we removed 208 children from homes in 2015, and that’s too many.”

In 2015, across the state of Texas, a total of 171 children died as a result of abuse or neglect.

Kayla Bishop, who represents C.A.S.A. for the Sabine-Neches Region, said the public is invited to a special candlelight vigil at 7:15 p.m., Monday, April 25 in front of the Orange County Courthouse in downtown Orange.

Sky lanterns will be released to honor the 171 children who died in 2015, which includes seven children from the communities served by C.A.S.A.