JUDGE CROOKS HAD NO OTHER CHOICE

I think that it is unfortunate that our county government became so fractured over one issue that it cost us a good county judge. Dean Crooks began his elected term just two and a half months ago. He was duly elected by the citizens by a wide margin and had previously filled Brint Carlton’s unexpired term. One thing I learned about Judge Crooks throughout those months is that he was very much into leading the county to the best of his ability. I found he also was very much above board and honest. Dean wasn’t looking for a job when he was elected, he wanted to serve and help move the county forward. I’ve said before that we were fortunate to have a good, qualified commissioner’s court. There is a lot of knowledge on the court. By working together the county could move forward. Judge Crooks stayed up to date on all county business. He didn’t shy away from pointing out the pitfalls and gladly opened the books to any reporter, he had nothing to hide, not even his opinions. That is what led to his being browbeaten through social media and other avenues. One falsehood that was spread and even headlined in another newspaper is that Judge Crooks is against tax abatement. The truth is he has never claimed to be against abatement, in fact he supported it as verified by a letter he wrote to Jessia Hill, economic development director, on January 25, when the Chevron deal was hush-hush. Just a handful of people were aware that Chevron/Phillips had approached the county about an Orange County location. He wrote in part, “I would like to suggest a proposal of 10 years abatement, 100% with pilot payments similar to the tax deals made with Jefferson Energy.” However, the falsehood continued. Citizens were urged to flood the commissioner’s courtroom, told they would be allowed three minutes to speak. That would be like publicly humiliating the Judge. I knew right then that Dean wouldn’t partake in such a senseless display. I’ve said before, he doesn’t need the job, he’s financially secure. Now he’s left with no choice. He can’t do the job required if he’s blocked on everything and nothing gets accomplished. That brings me down to the political side. At the next commissioner’s court meeting, the court can either accept Crooks resignation or reject it, and get their heads together and try to work it out with him. They also could appoint a new judge until the next election or since John Gothia and Johnny Trahan came on the court at the same time, they could flip a coin to select who would resign their commissioner’s post position and take the judgeship, then someone would have to be appointed to fill that position. To keep the job they would be required to run in the next election that will probably draw several candidates for the open seats. They would have to run again in the general election, the presidential election. If Democrats get in the mix, that election will possibly be a record vote. Really, it’s a can of worms and chaos that should never have happened. Judge Crook had no other choice. He didn’t deserve the abuse and this blame was displaced. It’s a shame it’s all come to this. It has cost us a county judge and a good court, something we may or may not ever get again. Everyone got over hyped.*****I have to move on. Please come along, I promise it won’t do you no harm.

WHAT WILL BE—WILL BE

I believe we can all agree that we would love to see Chevon/Phillips pick our Orange County location for their $5 billion expansion. Three locations are in the finals, which includes Orange County. It’s all about location—location—location. The bottom line is profit. Industry looks to expand to location that fits in their plans for the long run. Tax abatement is way down the list in their selection. If abatement was a priority; all industrial growth would be going to Louisiana because they give a life time tax abatement. However they are now discovering they have worked themselves into a trap. The bottom line for us is the economic boost that would help us all. Probably 80 percent of the construction workers would be transit, living in RV parks. We would benefit greatly through sales taxes and consumer sales. When the job is completed, they will move on to another new site. Orange County has 4 percent unemployment. Many people don’t want to work so Chevron would have to hire workers from some of our existing industries. I doubt that any Orange County contractor would be the general contractor but some may get work as a sub-contractor. That too is good. Management and supervisor jobs would transfer here from other locations, and hopefully these people would buy homes and set roots. With automation today I don’t believe there will be as many jobs as we would like to believe. Having said all of this, I don’t know if Chevron/Phillips expansion is in our future. I’ve seen us get excited about a project before, just to watch it evaporate. If that happens, there is no one to blame locally. The bottom line is the decision is made in the board room of some high-rise. We have absolutely no control. One thing that will not happen is that property owners will get a windfall in the reduction of their property taxes. So we wait, it could be three years before ground is broken, if it ever is, in Orange County.

TURNING BACK THE HANDS OF TIME

10 Years Ago-2009

Orange resident Leon Parish, who served in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army, often told of the Battle of Bastogne, where hundreds of soldiers were killed. Many officers were killed. Leon was one of the few to survive despite being wounded and receiving two Purple Hearts, one with an oak leaf cluster. Leon was one of our most decorated soldiers. He was awarded a presidential citation, the Silver Star and five Bronze Stars, and was personally complimented by Gen. Patton himself. (Editor’s note: Jessie Leon Parish, born Jan. 1, 1919, died at age 90 on March 14. Services were at Claybar Funeral Home, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. His path down life’s highway is an impressive one. I’m blessed to have traveled some of those miles with him.)*****We were sorry to hear about the death of Jimbo David, on March 12 at age 49. To his dad Julius, brother Larry and partner in Orange Insurance Agency and all their siblings, we send our condolences.***** It was Orange County Night at the Fat Stock Show and Rodeo Friday. Riding the wagon leading the grand entry were Sheriff Keith Merritt and wife Marlene, Bridge City Mayor Kirk Roccaforte, who convinced Shirley he was going to attend a meeting so she missed the ride. Also on board were Tyler Angelle, Glenn Hughes and “Go Texans” for Orange County who traveled to Houston by bus. Clint Black entertained and everyone had a great time.*****Bernie Madoff is the perfect name for a guy who “Made-Off” in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Families were ruined, victims have killed themselves, and charities have had to shut down because of his actions. Madoff arrived in court in a dark suit, wearing a bulletproof vest. He plead guilty to 11 felony counts. Some feared this was one more scam to protect his family and conceal his true villainy. Where’s the money? Even if he gets 100 years in prison, odds are that no one will come away feeling justice was done. He did start out as a lifeguard then drowned a lot of people. He’s a thief and a very evil man that could look people in the eye while he stole from them. Greed might have played a part by those who gave him the money but government bares responsibility also. They let Bernie make off with people’s money for more than 20 years without even a hand slap. For that the government should have to pay up a reasonable amount to those charities and individuals who lost everything if they don’t find the money.*****Our buddy Euel Norwood celebrates his special day this week. So does Roman Carpenter and Carson Carpenter, Joseph Blanda, Louise Wood and Grant Kimbrough. *****Our friend Warren at Claybar Funeral Home will celebrate March 25. *****Judge Thibodeaux and wife Mike traveled from Washington to New York last week. We got a call that Judge Carl had been spotted in the audience of the David Letterman Show. “You sure,?” we asked. “There can’t be another mug like that one in the country,” came the response. *****Congrats to the Bridge City Lady Cardinals power lifting teams, who won the 3-A Regional championship again, finishing way ahead of the pack. Valerie Brown was the outstanding lifter in the heavyweight division. The team will compete in the state meet March 20 in Corpus Christi. Ricci Shoemaker, Alexa Richmond, Brittany Myers, Rosemary Truong and Amy Caillouet all qualified. Other team members are Whitney Leblanc, Gabby Brown, Nicole Threatt and Taylor Daville.

40 Years Ago-1979

Betty Jo Spence, editor of the Opportunity Valley News, published a story on Arthur E “Terry’” Lyons, a 1 to 5 p.m. disc jockey on KOGT-AM. Lyons went to work for the radio station. All of this seems very natural except for the fact that Terry Lyons is blind. Born in St. Louis, Terry was three months premature, weighing only two pounds, nine ounces. Too much pure oxygen while in the incubator caused the retina of the eyes to burn out. On sunny days, he has only slight light perception. He attended Texas State School for the Blind. Terry graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Science Degree in radio, television and film. Hired by station manager Bill Fort, Terry has become a part of “Orange County Country” with his “Country Kitchen” radio show. Spence’s article covered two pages of this dynamic guy’s daily happenings and habits, from radio to movie-going. (Editor’s note: Terry Lyons had lost his job when management changed at the station. When Gary Stelly bought KOGT in 1992, he brought the talented blind man back to Orange trying to build a strong base of loyal fans. Since Stelly bought the station on-air personality Richard Corder, suffered a stroke and retired after 50-years and just a few weeks ago, and disc jockey Rex Russell died unexpectedly. Lyons was on the air until he unexpectedly died in his sleep July 17, 2004.*****The home of “Jimmy” James Kirby Conn and wife Inez, on Cherokee Trail in Little Cypress, was destroyed by fire. Jimmy is at Baptist Hospital in Beaumont and expected to recover. His wife Inez perished in the fire.

45 Years Ago-1974

Jim Ehlert, formerly of Quick Car Wash, has joined Harmon Chevrolet as a new car salesman.*****Maac Hughes has opened a new sign company located on Texas Avenue in Bridge City. *****Carl Thibodeaux of West Orange Pharmacy is collecting old prescription bottles and has asked the public to bring them by if they have any. (Editor’s note: I wonder if the Judge still has that large collection.)*****Doug Patterson, a professional baseball pitcher with the Baltimore organization, has reported to the Rochester Red Wings spring camp. The six feet, 3.5 inch hurler said, “I’ve spent three seasons in Class A. I’m really hoping to become a regular starter with Ashville, the Oriole’s Class AA entry in the Southern League. With Dennis Duhon deciding to remain at the University of Houston for the spring semester instead of returning to the St. Louis Cardinals training camp, Doug becomes Orange’s only pro-baseball player in the 1974 campaign*****Pretty Patricia Acosta was chosen Little Cypress Football Sweetheart for the past 1973 season.

60 Years Ago-1959

County Judge Sid J. Caillavet, at a hearing in Austin to protest the state wanting to boost truck load limits from 58,000 to 72,000 pounds, told legislators, “The only time we catch an overweight truck now is when they go through a bridge floor and we find them there the next morning, still stuck.”*****Orangefield girl’s basketball team on the way to a state championship. Team coach Adolph Hryhorchuk is considered one of the best coaches in the state. Team members are Adell Cox, Wilma “Rusty” Montagne, Ruth Winfree, Joy Heathman, Robbie Self and Ginger Trahan. Orangefield plays Brenham next. *****State Rep. Louis Dugas introduced two school bills. *****Lou Costello dies of a heart attack. He and Bud Abbott split up two years before.

70 Years Ago-1949

Shangri La, fabulous Azalea and Camellia gardens of Mr. and Mrs. H.J. Lutcher Stark, is open to the public Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dogs are banned.*****City Judge A.H. Prince warned that all jaywalkers would be fined. *****Orange County natives Bum Phillips and H.W. “Chief” Wilson are both on the SFA baseball team. They will report to the team as soon as spring football training is over. *****A contract has been let for a new Bridge City school. O.W. Collins was awarded the contract. His bid was $10.85 per square foot. Grover Die, superintendent, estimated school and equipment would cost about $136,000, including architectural fees. (Editor’s note: I wonder which school that was? Probably Hatton.)

A FEW HAPPENINGS

We were sorry to hear about the death of two great guys last week. Laurence Ray Simar, Sr., 87, passed away March 6. A mass of Christian burial was celebrated Monday, March 11. Father Sinclair Oubre and Rev. John Ulm were co-celebrants. Condolence to his wife Dolores and her large family. Please see obituary.*****We had known Tommy Fleming, age 82, since the mid-1950’s when Tommy, a teenager and his family lived on Shady Dr. Born in Rodess, LA., he spent most of his life in Bridge City. Tommy passed away March 4. Services were held Saturday, March 9, at Liberty Baptist Church. He went to work for what is now Huntsman and stayed 44 years. Our deepest sympathies to his wife Dianne and the entire family. Please see obituary.*****The rumor that Dean Crooks will run for sheriff is just not true. Even though it’s a job he would probably enjoy, he would still have to work with the same court. By the way, Judge Crooks was making a lot of progress towards settling the long dispute with the Sheriff’s Employees Association. Hopefully that progress will continue now.***** An investigation by the Houston Chronicle has found that the $44 billion Texas Permanent School Fund is the largest education endowment in the country, but the state’s public schools are seeing less money than they did decades ago.*****The Wednesday Lunch Bunch, over the next two weeks, will dine at Robert’s. See you there, it should be interesting.

A FEW BIRTHDAYS

A few friends celebrating birthdays in the next few days. March 13: Celebrating are Rod Sheppard, Kyle Dubose,  John Collin Kimbrow, Vickie Brown and Angel San Juan, KFDM/FOX 4, who turns 50. They are joined by Rapper Common, 46, Pop singer Charo, 77 and actress Emile Hirsch, 33.*****March 14: Jill Peveto, Martha Williams and Lucy Fields all celebrate. Also Basketball player Stephan Curry, 30, music producer Quincy Jones, 85 and actor Billy Chrystal who will turn 70.*****March 15: Having birthdays this week are Ricky Glenn Roberts, Jr., Dusty Jennings, Julie Myers and Amber Doiron. Celebrities celebrating Rock singer Bret Michaels, 55, actress Eva Longoria, 43 and male model Fabio, 59.*****March 16: Chelsea Coleman, Blame Slaughter, Jordan Doiron, Karli Anderson, Dorothy Morris and Cody Edwards all celebrate along with actors Erik Estrada, 69 and Lauren Graham, 51.*****March 17: Celebrating birthdays on this St. Patrick’s Day are Janet Jacobs, Martha Dyer Howell, Sally Wingard, Stephanie Hughes, Tiffany Moreau and Josh Sims. They are joined by actors Rob Lowe, 54, Kurt Russell, 67 and Gary Sinise, 63.*****March 18: Beth Shepherd and Tammy Stark celebrate. Joining them are singer and actress Queen Latifah, 48, Pop singer Adam Levine, 39 and actress Vanessa Williams, 55.*****March 19: Roman Carpenter, Hannah Walles, Lori Johnson, Barbara Roy, Carol Emerson and Larry David, who turns 78 today. Joining them are Country singer Carrie Underwood, 35, actors Jon Hamm, 47 and Sharon Stone, 60.

CAJUN STORY OF THE WEEK

Coo-Coo Ledeau’s pregnant sister, Marline, was in a terrible car accident and went into a deep coma her. After six mon’hs, she wakes up and see dat she is no longer pregnant. Frantically she axe da doctor about her baby.

Dr. Leblanc, him, replies, “Ms. Marline, sha, you have some twins you, a boy and a girl. Da babies dem, are fine and your brotter came and named dem.”

Marline tink to herself, “Oh no, not my brotter Coo-Coo, he’s an idiot him.”

Expecting the worst she says, “Doc, mais wat is da girl’s name hanh?”

“Denise,” says da doctor.

Da new mama says ,”Wow, dats a beautiful name. I guess I was wrong about my brotter me, I like Denise.” Den Marline axe, “Well, doc, wats da boy’s name?”

Doc he answer, “De Nephew.”

C’EST TOUT

TRADE INBALANCE HIGHEST EVER

I recall quite well a speech Donald Trump made when he was in the general election in Youngstown, Ohio.  Youngstown was once a model city; today it has empty, abandoned factories and warehouses. While campaigning there Trump said, “You see all those rusty, empty buildings, well, when I’m elected they will be replaced with new, shiny ones. We will bring back so many jobs from China and other places. We will win so much you will say please Mr. President, quit winning so much, and I’ll say, ‘No we are just going to keep winning and winning.” Well, last week General Motors ended production at the first of five plants to be closed. The last American-made Chevrolet Cruze came off the assembly line last Wednesday at GM’s assembly plant near Youngstown. Another rusty building is in its future. Trump made the same statement throughout the Rust Belt now they face the same fate. Despite Trump saying he would make better trade deals that China was not going to take advantage of the US anymore. However, the trade deficit jumped up 19 % to a record high $621 billion. The gap with China has grown to an all time high of $419.2 billion. Trump’s promise to cut trade in-balance and bring back overseas factory jobs and bolster the U.S. economy just hasn’t happened.*****I’ve got to shut down for this week. My time is up but I sincerely thank you for yours. Please read us cover to cover and mention us to anyone you trade with. We reach more customers at a lower rate. Take care and God bless.