Dave Rogers

For The Record

Orange County Commissioners Barry Burton and Jody Crump indulged in a playful game of keepaway Tuesday when it came time to put forth a motion to pay the county’s weekly bills.

“I don’t want in my last court to make a motion to approve almost a million dollars in expenses,” Burton said.

“Commissioner Burton, you can just go ahead and write that check,” Crump joked.

The mood was light in what was the final meeting for Burton and Crump as members of the court.

Both were defeated for re-election earlier this year. Their terms expire Dec. 31 but next week’s meeting has been canceled for the holidays.

The day began with thanks and praise from fellow commissioners Johnny Trahan and John Gothia and County Judge Dean Crooks.

“Whether we agree or disagree, you have to respect somebody for standing up and saying I’ll take all that accountability and responsibility,” said Crooks. “That’s the way I look at this job and I’m sure they do, too.

“Who wants to get called at 2 in the morning, because of a pothole? But it probably happens. But for someone to step up and do that, you’ve got to be appreciative of that.”

Burton, who represented Precinct 2, which runs vertically through the center of the county from Mauriceville to Bridge City, said he enjoyed his service.

“The most rewarding part of this is being able to help people with problems, be a problem solver,” he said.

“As a commissioner, you are the closest elected official to the public, usually. They can’t find their state senator or their Congressman, but they can always find their commissioner.

“So, you hear a lot of things that may not be in your responsibility as a commissioner, but I took pride in never saying, ‘No, that’s not my job.’ I always took each call and each problem and did what I could to find a solution.”

The next meeting of Commissioners’ Court will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2.

Burton’s and Crump’s successors, Theresa Beauchamp and Robert Viator, will be among newly elected county officials swearing in at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1.

The total weekly bills of $936,000, County Judge Dean Crooks explained to those in court Tuesday, was real. He pointed out that more than $500,000 of the total was to pay for 10 vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office and Road and Bridge Department that had been on order for many months.

Another $150,000 went to pay for a month of retirees’ healthcare and prescription insurance.

In the end, Crump made the motion to pay that bill and Burton seconded. That vote passed 5-0 as did all but one other – the vote to adjourn.

Crump and Burton both noted a joking ‘No’ but were outvoted.

In earlier action Tuesday, commissioners acknowledged receipt of $439,000 in sales tax for October and Karen Fisher, tax assessor-collector, noted the county had received $1,482,000 in November property tax payments.