For The Record- Dave Rogers

Fish was on the menu for the Orange County Commissioners Tuesday and they were plenty anxious to reel in some economic benefit.
Commissioners voted 4-0 to authorize spending $90,000 in Hotel/Motel Occupancy funds to promote the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open fishing tournament staging from the Orange Boat Ramp June 15-17.
“The cost-benefit analysis is off the chart,” declared Jody Crump, Precinct 4 Commissioner.
It will be the third Bassmaster tournament to come to Orange in three years.
The first, a Bassmaster Elite event held in 2013, set a record for the series with weekend attendance of more than 33,000 spectators.
A 2015 event here was shortened by rain.
Organizers said the 2017 tournament would bring about 400 fishermen to compete and predicted that would translate to more than 1,000 hotel nights, not to mention the money they leave behind after buying food and gas.
And that doesn’t even include money spent by fans.
“We know our economic impact is going to be really good,” said John Gothia of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce, who has chaired all three Bassmaster events in Orange.
“We know our hotel stays are going to be really good from that. And then they’ll come in, they’ll fish for three days and weigh a limit every day.
“And we make a very big family-event around it. We do a festival, we do a carnival, country music around it.”
Barry Burton, Commissioner Precinct 2, said the decision to spend money to make money and create goodwill was an easy decision.
“The number of nights they spend, the amount of money they spend, it has a huge impact on our sales tax revenue,” he said. “Not only that, it gets the word out on Orange County being a sportsman’s paradise, some place people come and enjoy outdoor activities throughout the year.”
Ida Schossow, president of the sponsoring Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce, said a smaller Bass Champs tournament held in October rewarded the city with 540 hotel/motel nights from the competitors.
Gothia predicted this summer’s tournament would draw twice as many fishermen.
“We’d like to say thanks to the court for all the years of support with this,” Gothia said. “This has been extremely productive for us and Orange County and we’re definitely glad to do it. We look forward to good things to come out of it.”
Schossow said some local hotels were considering putting in “boat hookups” so fishermen could recharge all their boats’ batteries between days on the water.
“Like John said, we really do appreciate everything the court does,” she told commissioners. “We would not be able to do this and promote Orange County like we do if it wasn’t for the court.”
On an otherwise light agenda, the commissioners did some monthly bookkeeping.
They acknowledged the receipt and deposit of a $439,000 check from the state – the county’s ½-cent sales tax for September. Then they paid out almost the same amount, $408,000 to the Texas Association of Counties Health & Employees Benefit Pool for November’s group insurance for county retirees under age 65.
A week ago, commissioners court voted to spend up to $8,000 to replace a new Christmas nativity scene that it had purchased for the courthouse lawn only a couple of weeks earlier for $560.
“The scaling wasn’t going to be right for being on a courthouse lawn,” County Judge Stephen Carlton said of the first purchase. “It was between 27 and 30 inches high, which is going to be pretty small-looking for the road.”
The new 14-piece nativity scene is 54 inches tall. But since its $5,599 purchase price left room in the $8,000 limit, the county also ordered a shepherd, an angel and a life-size Nutcracker King.