Dave Rogers

For The Record

 

Orange County commissioners’ court Tuesday yielded great news for Sheriff Keith Merritt but Commissioner Barry Burton’s courthouse plans hit a speed bump.

With Commissioner Jody Crump absent, the remaining four members of the court voted unanimously to authorize a total of $52,000 Hurricane Harvey repairs to the Sheriff’s Office.

The repairs include replacing walls, ceilings and floors damaged by last August’s storm.

Added at the recommendation of contractor SpawGlass is  caulking for windows on the Sheriff’s Office north wall. That wall, built of porous cinder block construction, allowed storm water to blow into the building during Harvey.

“Weather permitting, we’ll start May 21,” said Kurt Guidry, the county’s maintenance director.

Burton is the commissioners’ point of contact for infrastructure, which includes the courthouse. The front of the historic building has been closed for three years because of a crumbling marble wall.

Burton began working with the Texas Historic Commission on grants to fix it before Harvey but the county has to come up with matching funds.

Burton said Tuesday that $50,000 the county had set aside to pay for generators for a Way Services energy conservation was no longer needed there and could be used for marble restoration.

“I’d like to see it begin and finish before fall,” he said.

But to do it would involve amending a contract with Way Services. County Judge Dean Crooks and Assistant County Attorney Denise Gremillion, both relative newcomers to the county’s business, wanted to review the contracts.

“I’ll have every effort to have it done before the next commissioners’ court,” Gremillion said.

Both Crooks and County Auditor Pennee Schmitt had questions about financing for the Way Services contract. The county took out a $5 million bond to pay for the energy conservation contract that was to pay for itself in energy savings. Crooks had used the Way Services agreement in campaigning against former County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton.

Good news for the county came with a check for $523,000 from the state for March sales tax and an April tax collection report that showed 2017 collections at 95.5 percent.

Commissioners OK’d $326,000 in bill payments and, after a short closed meeting, agreed to hire Dr. Calvin Parker of Orange for $1,500 per month to serve as physician for the Orange County Health Authority.