AWAITING JUDGE CROOKS REPLACEMENT

Judge Dean Crooks financed most of his own campaign to become county judge. He won by a good margin and had looked forward to putting in four productive years with a court willing to put their shoulders to the wheel. Last May he was appointed interim county judge to replace resigning judge Brint Carlton. Everything over the first 10 months seemed to work well. Crooks attended all the required classes throughout the state and by the way, he paid all of his own expenses, travel and lodging to these seminars. Also last year Judge Crooks returned about $20,000 of his salary beck to the county. He had also suggested that commissioners and judge take a small cut in pay in order to help the employees with a raise. Maybe that is where the problem started but it seemed to come apart quickly. Crooks could have stayed four more years, drew his salary and put away nearly a half-million dollars. Most people would have stayed even though unable to accomplish much. As judge he could have done public relations, ribbon cuttings, etc. and drawn his pay but that is not who Dean is. It never has been about him; he had a sincere desire to serve and hopefully could better the county. He’s a man of high principle; maybe we could all learn something from him. I know I have. For most people, it’s hard to imagine someone who didn’t have to, and no one could make him leave, just walking away from the money. The reason that didn’t matter to Crooks is because he never got in it for the money anyway. He probably would have served just for expenses or less. Dean Crooks showed a lot of class when he took the blame for any problems that has caused the strife. He will move on and as a county, we will hopefully move forward. Regardless of what anyone says the new court will have a learning curve but they seem excited about getting started. Special thanks to Judge Crooks for his efforts and service. Now the court needs to go through due process instead of some shenanigans of short-time appointments in order to get a judge from the court and get to pick the new commissioner until that is settled Dean is still the judge.*****I have to move on. Please come along, I promise it won’t do you no harm.

TURNING BACK THE HANDS OF TIME

10 Years Ago-2009

COX BRINGS A PIECE OF HISTORY

Neighbor Cox came by Saturday and left us a Dec. 26, 1976 Opportunity Valley News. The paper was still in the wrapper and had never been opened. I don’t know where our old buddy found it, but whoever had it had not read it. The lead story, by the late historian Nina Harden, reads, “Women’s Lib Nothing New to Texas.” Early pioneer land and cattle owner Jane A. Phelps, alias Jane Harris, petitioned for and was granted a head right league of land in Orange County in February, 1866. She was the daughter of Enoch and Sarah Harris. Mrs. Harris came to Orange in 1828 and they settled in what was, at the time, Jefferson County. That proves the Harris’ from Louisiana have been here a longtime, shortly after the first settler John Harmon. Women who obtained head right leagues or grants of land were widows who had children and qualified as head of the household. Sheriff L.R. Thomas testified he had known Jane since December of 1839 and she had a child. He listed the names of William Clark, A.Winfrey, A. Jett, John Harmon, Peyton Bland and John Bland as knowing the applicant and himself. The sheriff noted she is about 40 years of age. There were other women with grants. Among the cattle owners listed in 1852 were those of Mary Peveto, Nancy Bland, Emily Patillo and Carolyn Peveto. A bill of sale recorded in 1851 claimed a schedule of separate property by Ann Harris, wife of Victor N. Harris, that included, “One Negro man named Morgan, about 48 years old; one Negro woman named Harriet, age 38,with yellow complexion; one Negro boy named Hillary, age 14, with black complexion; one Negro woman named Amanda, age 50, yellow complexion; one Negro child named LoRina, age five months, rather light complexion; one Negro man named Bob, age 32, black complexion; one Negro boy named Thorton, nine years old, yellow complexion.” Also, one large American mare, chestnut; one sorrel male mule, three years, about 15 hands high; one Spanish mule; one large oxen horse wagon; and one black horse. Also held in trust was other property, three slaves and all cattle branded A/C. Ann wasn’t the only woman to own slaves in the county, Mrs. Harris’ story goes on. I love history and this is a great story that has been asleep in this plastic bag for 33 years. Interesting is that these women couldn’t vote and wouldn’t have dreamed that someday a Negro would be president of the United States. Thanks Cox. (Editor’s note: We first ran this entire story 43 years ago.)***** We were sorry to hear about the death of Charles “Charlie” Nixon, who died Saturday March 21, 2009, at age 76. He would have celebrated a birthday this week. For many years he has been the caregiver for his wife Barbara, who had suffered a stroke. Charlie was a great guy. He was raised in Port Arthur where he and Ms. Phyl were next-door neighbors. She and his sister Hazel, who was killed in an auto accident at a young age, were great childhood friends. Charlie was like family. He and Barbara lived in Bridge City and for many years had been caring neighbors of Ann Oliver Hall. He attributed June Gregory, his sister-in-law, as being the one he depended on to be there to drive them to Houston or do whatever needed to be done. This guy was the real salt of the earth. . *****David Fusilier Jr. has left the Air Force. He chose not to re-enlist and is at present looking for employment in the private sector. *****Jason Menard, after three trips to Iraq, is back at his home base in Hawaii. His mother Sharon picked him up at the Houston airport Friday and he will be visiting his family and friends this week. The Duns are still in their FEMA hut while repairs are made to their home. Not the greatest accommodations but it beats Iraq. *****Speaking of FEMA huts, the shaking going on with Donna and Jimmy Scales’ hut is not because hanky-panky is going on. It’s only the washing machine shaking away. *****Congrats to Olivia Wagner of Orangefield High, picked to play in the greater Houston area girl’s all star basketball game April 11 in Pasadena. Olivia is the only 3-A player selected, the rest of the team are 4-A and above. *****Also congratulations to Valerie Brown, a Bridge City powerlifter, who won the state championship last week. Just a junior, she will be back next year. She had a total of 986 pounds, just barely missing a state record. The BC Lady Cards placed second in the state as a team. Those Bridge City athletes just keep coming with the big wins. This weekend, at the Bob Cat relays, the BC boys captured first place. Tim Crud again won the 3200 meters and Kirby Shepherd won the 1600-meter with Tim close on his heels. Spotted at the meet was Johnny Dishon, LSU baseball player and Dion Beasley with the Texas Longhorns. *****Congrats to the Lady Bear power lifting team. Meagan Fontenot, a state record holder in the squat, broke another record in the bench press with 190 pounds and went on to tie another record in the lift by dead lifting 360 pounds. She finished with 875 total weight. Teammate, freshman Maggan Crosslin, took fourth place and finished with 795 pounds total weight.*****We were saddened by the fire of Optimist Village. It made many of our senior citizens homeless with only their clothes on their backs. More than 30 years ago, a bunch of determined Optimist members established that nice facility. Bennie Mazolla, club president, Roy Dunn, lieutenant governor; and club member Frank Manchek worked hard with HUD to purchase the property from Joe Hester.*****Work has finally escalated on Judge Janice’s home and in a couple of months she could be back. Meanwhile, around the corner, Judge Don Burgess and Bobbie are working full speed to be back home by hurricane season.  

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Obituaries 10 Years Ago-1909

Judy Gail Pepper, 63, of Orange, died Tuesday, March 17. Funeral services were Friday, March 20. She retired in February 2009 from the Vidor Police Department after over 27 years of service. She is survived by her daughters, Melissa Savoie, Melonie Bagley, son, Bryan Bagley, and four grandchildren.*****Norman Riley Harris, 63, of Orange, died Thursday, March 19. Funeral services were held Monday, March 23. He loved working on computers and loved to communicate with people. He is survived by his wife, LuEllen Harris; daughter, Wanda Harris and grandchildren.*****JoAnn Mier, 64, of Orange, died Tuesday, March 17. Funeral services were Saturday, March 21. She was the wife of Maxie Mier.  She is survived by her daughters, Rhonda Dupuy, Margaret Dixon, Pricilla Hess and three grandchildren.*****Maxie Mier, 71, of Orange, died Tuesday, March 17. Funeral services were Saturday, March 21. He was the husband of JoAnn Mier. He is survived by his daughters, Rhonda Dupuy, Margaret Dixon, Pricilla Hess and three grandchildren.*****Drucilla “Dru” Harvey, 70, of Bridge City, died Wednesday, March 18. Funeral services were Saturday, March 21. She lived in Bridge City for 50 years and loved her children and grandchildren. She is survived by her children, Terry Harvey, Howard Harvey, Robert Harvey, Donna Self and eleven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and sister, Caroline Savant.*****

110 Years Ago-1909

Mr. and Mrs. James D. Neff and son have arrived from Newton and will be making their home in Orange.*****Jesse Harmon, formerly of Orange, is now located in Lake Charles where he is in the saddlery business.*****Frank W. Hustmyre, general manager of the Orange Grocery Co. has just returned from a business trip to points in Louisiana.

85 Years Ago-1934

Marriage licenses wren issued to Vertice Sands and Gladys Addison, Leo Thomas and Ruby Lee Moore, Helton McDonald and Evelyn Pawke.*****Charles Peveto has been elected principal of the Cove District schools.

70 Years Ago-1949

Bill authorizing the organization of a state recognized Sabine River Authority is now on the calendar for both branches of the state legislature. *****The Kiwanis Club has been organized and the first meeting scheduled for April 1. The president is Barney Hoover, O.B. Culpepper will serve as vice president, Herbert Journesay, treasurer and James Forse, secretary. Directors are C.H. Benkenstein, Henry Crew, Cecil Coale, R.D. Thompson, Jim Robinett, A.H. Stahl and Jack Love.

60 Years Ago-1959

Diana Ketchell, a beautiful Stark High senior, will represent Stringer Service Station in the annual contest to select the sweetheart of the Texas service station association. *****A construction worker at the Iron Bridge Reservoir in the upper Sabine River watershed uncovered a huge skeleton. The remains have been identified as a Mastodon. Archeologists of the University of Texas made identification of the 14,000-year-old skeleton.

40 Years Ago-1979

W.T. Oliver named Opportunity Valley News Citizen of the Year at ceremonies held at the Orange County courthouse. Presenting the award was former Attorney General and Speaker of the House Waggoner Carr. A few others present were county judge Pete Runnels, commissioners Asa Mansfield, Raymond Gould and Ollie Crawford. Roy Dunn publishes the OVN. *****Linda Richardson, formerly with KOGT for 16 years, is now associated with Wickersham Ford.*****Last week Lani Hall, daughter of Lynn and Dennis Hall, turned 10 years old. *****Rhonda Elizabeth Beeson, daughter of Harold and Sheila Beeson, turned 12 on March 19. *****John “Bojo” Moore was named Rotarian of the Week in Bridge City. *****Glenn Seale seeks re-election as West Orange mayor. *****Clayton Meredith, 82, a master tailor, is one of the last of a “dead trade.”*****Don Campbell, Junior Clark and Jimmy Conn are all presently in the hospital. Conn is in Beaumont recovering from the fire burn that took the life of his wife Inez. The other two are in Orange. (Editor’s note: Clark is Judge Pat Clark’s late father. Anyone who knew Clark and Campbell will never forget those East Texas boys.)*****Tommy White died last week.*****Don Burgess is Orange County’s newest district judge and must be doing a good job; two lawyers were heard praising him. (Editor’s note: Don went on to become an appellant court judge.)*****Evelyn, wife of Frank Giarratano, celebrates her birthday March 28.

A FEW HAPPENINGS

All Pro safety Earl Thomas signed with the Baltimore Ravens. The four year contract, worth $55 million, with $32 million guaranteed, $13.75 million per year is more than the $10 million on his previous contract with Seattle. *****I predict long distance LCM runner, Eli Peveto, will be a gold metal winner at this year’s state track meet.*****Would you believe sexy Vanessa Williams, Miss USA a few years ago, turned 56 years old on March 18. Time waits on no one. *****Last week, March 11, Obama’s Bull Market started its eleventh year. *****On March 22, 2014, our buddy Bobby Joe Taylor left us. We haven’t heard from his wife Barbara in the past five years. We hope she’s doing alright.*****It’s been seven years, March 21, since our friend Gene Hidalgo passed away at age 72.*****The youngest of Donald Trumps’ children, Barron, turns 12-years-old on March 20. He’s going to be a big boy. He already stands 6-feet tall. *****Happy anniversary to Susan and Judge Jerry Pennington on March 26. Best wishes for many more.*****The Real Texas Gun Show will be held this Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24, at Orange County Expo Center, Hwy. 1442. Promoter Aubrey Sanders, Jr., promises a great show with plenty of merchandise reasonably priced. 

A FEW BIRTHDAYS

 A few folks having birthdays in the next few days. March 20: Brittany Hilton, Ashley Ashworth, Ben Walles, Diane Sims, Kamela Latiolais and Brittany Backer all celebrate on this day. Joining them are Spike Lee, 61 and actor David Thewlis, 55. This is also the first day of Spring and a new moon.*****March 21: Barbara Mosier, Pam Nugent, Kyle Anderson, Tanya Simon, Lisa Roberts, Johnny Dishon and Alayna Jacobs celebrate today. Also having birthdays are actors Scott Eastwood, 32, Matthew Broderick, 56 and TV host Rosie O’Donnell, 56.*****March 22: Celebrating birthdays today are Sharon Boling, Carsen Carpenter, football player JJ Watt, 29, actors William Shatner, 87 and Reese Witherspoon, 42.*****March 23: Euel Norwood, Lance Eads, Chad Gearhart, Margaret Boehme, Abigail Gauthier, Natalie Sarvar, Renee Dillion, Helen Clark and Grady Rawls celebrate today. Joining them are Country singer Brett Edlridge, 32, actor Kari Russel, 42, blogger Perez Hilton, 40.*****March 24: Having birthdays today are Forrest Wood, James Stone, Joseph Blanda, Louise Wood, Brenda Edwards, Grant Kimbrough. Celebrities celebrating are former football player Peyton Manning, 42, Jim Parsons, 45 and actress Alyson Hannifin, 44.*****March 25: Celebrating today are Kim Faulkner, Katie Birdwell, Matt Thompson, Warren Claybar, and Mike Vincent. They are joined by Rock singer Elton John, 71, race car driver Danica Patrick, 36 and actress Sarah Jessica Parker, 53.*****March 26: Karen Bozman, Margie Fields, Sherry Stevens, Billy LeLeux celebrate today. Also having birthdays today are Soul singer Diana Ross, 74, Rock singer Steven Tyler, 70 and Country singer Kenny Chesney, 50.*****Special Happy Birthday wishes to pretty Lisa Guyote on March 22 and longtime friend Sherry Stevens, who celebrates on March 26.

CAJUN STORY OF THE WEEK

Da rain it was coming down hard yeah, wen Joe Nunez and Miss Gladys Comeaux got in a bad two-car wreck dem. Neider one of dem was hurt a bit but da two cars dem, were demolished. After dey crawl out dare cars, Nunez start hollering about dem women drivers.

Gladys answer,  “So, you a man, I’m a women me, our cars, dem are total but we don’t get a scratch on us, wat you tink. hanh?” “Dat must be a sign from God dat we should be friends for da rest of our lives.”

Well Nunez him, he’s flattered by dis so he agree. “Mais yeah, it must be a sign but you still at fault, you, womens should not be allowed to drive no!”

Gladys, her she tink about dat and say, “But look at dis, anudder miracle, our cars are wreck dem but dis bottle of wine is not even chip. God him must want us to have a drink and celebrate. He had his angles dem watching over us.”

Gladys hand Nunez da bottle, he open it up and take a big drink. He hand da bottle back to Gladys and she screw da cap back on and hand it rat back to Nunez. He axe her “You not gonna drink, hanh?”

Gladys look at him and say, “Mister not me, I tink I’ll wait for da police.”

C’EST TOUT

Spring has Sprung

Well, today, March 20, is the first day of spring. I hope we have had our April showers early. Many lawns need the March winds to dry out. Usually by this time some of our friends have broken ground for spring gardens. We ran into Tommy Burton last week and he said his little brother Owen was happy he has set out his potatoes. This time of year, over many years, I watched Neighbor Cox and Ms. Ginny put in a nice garden. He broke ground and she had the green thumb. The last few years, Ginny has been living at Golden Years and Neighbor just hasn’t had it in him to work a big garden. This year the ground is way too wet anyway. He might sew a few okra seeds and a couple of bucket tomatoes and that will probably be it. I haven’t heard from Sue and Tommy Simar lately but I don’t think his health will let him farm anymore. Our buddy, John Heard stopped by but with continued knee problems and so much rain he hasn’t been able to tend his citrus. Much of the fruit rotted in the field. It’s been a bad year for our gardening friends but tough on our elderly friends also. Maybe the coming of spring will put a little extra spring in their step. *****I haven’t heard from Chuck Patterson lately. We’re not sure besides raising a couple of chickens; if he’s going to farm this spring. He used to really have a green thumb. If any of you get to put in a garden let me know how it’s doing. I believe it will be dry now for a few days. Good luck. *****This week the Lunch Bunch will dine at Robert’s Restaurant and next week at JB’s. Make plans to attend. Everyone always invited. *****Take care and God bless.