Photo:  Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce president Ida Schossow appeared before Orange County commissioners Tuesday seeking a $100,000 Hotel Occupancy Fund reimbursement to bid for a Bassmasters Elite fishing tournament in June 2020. RECORD PHOTO: Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers

For The Record

 

Look for the Bassmaster Elite national fishing tournament to return to Orange in 2020.

And cross your fingers, too.

That’s what Orange County Commissioners are doing after agreeing to dedicate $100,000 from next year’s Hotel Occupancy Fund so the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce can bid on a June 2020 tourney.

The county will only transfer the money as a reimbursement for expense receipts if the tournament bid is accepted.

“They won’t announce the 2020 schedule until the end of this year,” said Steve Jones, the Chamber’s vice chairman for special events, “but we have to get our bid in as soon as we can.”

Jones says, “In the past, this has been the biggest event Orange has hosted,” and it’s hard to doubt him, at least in the recent past.

Bassmaster Elite tournaments in 2013 and 2015 drew more than 30,000 spectators to the Orange Boat Ramp and last summer’s Bassmaster Elite tourney drew 25,000 despite rain and lightning storms.

A 2017 Bassmaster Open team fishing tournament produced 1,000 hotel-nights for local innkeepers, with all the gas, food and accessory spending to go with it.

“They only stage eight of these tournaments a year and we’ve been fortunate to land some,” said Jones, who was accompanied at Tuesday’s commissioners’ court meeting by Chamber president Ida Schossow.

“This event is televised live on the internet and also a highlights show in on ESPN every year. It gives us a lot of publicity. People in the fishing community know where Orange, Texas is.”

Schossow explained that the Chamber would have to independently raise $40,000 from sponsors and vendors to cover all expenses.

“We’ve regularly set attendance records for Bassmaster and for room-nights,” Commissioner John Gothia said, “so this is very good for the area and our economy.”

“Often in spite of the weather,” Commissioner Johnny Trahan added.

“They don’t care if it’s raining,” Schossow said.

Commissioners Tuesday also okayed a $5,000 2019 HOF

Request for a June 14-15 Veterans Tribute at The Oaks Event Center.

Owner Donna Little said she and her husband had bought the former VFW building in Vidor and intended to rent it out for events like weddings and reunions.

She told commissioners she anticipated 50 Orange County hotel rooms would be rented by people attending next week’s veterans’ event.

The open-meeting agenda contained only nine items and required a half hour to complete.

A separate, closed executive session to discuss “pending or threatened litigation” was closed to all but County Judge Carl Thibodeaux, commissioners, Assistant County Attorney Denise Gremillion, Human Resources director Lori Ardoin, Sheriff Keith Merritt and Deputy Chief John Tarver.

No action was taken after the half-hour closed session.

Bills paid Tuesday totaled $165,811.

Purchasing agent Connie Cassidy was approved to seek bids for an 18-foot airboat and trailer which the county will be acquiring with emergency management Rebuild Texas grant money.

No action was taken on one item to approve and another to provide funds to purchase about $3,000 of diesel fuel to replace that used by a generator at the county Administration Building during a May 9-12 power outage.

Commissioners directed Kurt Guidry, maintenance director, to use money already in his department’s budget to replace the fuel.