COUNTY ONE OF MOST POLARIZED

Next Tuesday is Election Day but a lot of voting has been going on in early voting. Over the years voting in Orange County has been polarized, in fact Orange County might be the most polarized county in the state. It all began with the “Tea Party” movement. Ten years ago, every Orange County elected official was elected under the Democratic Party banner. No matter which national party the candidates sign up under their duties will be the same. I’ve never heard a sheriff saying, “Don’t arrest him, he’s a Democrat.” Neither have I heard a judge ask a defendant their party affiliation. Judge Carl Thibodeaux, Judge Buddie Hahn, Judge Pat Clark all were elected as Democrats. Some still serving, who were elected to the office as a Democrat, are still in office, Dist. Attorney John Kimbrough, Sheriff Keith Merritt & Judge Dennis Powell. By the way, the race between Powell and Alan Sanders was the most expensive race ever run in Orange County. Others are Constable Mark Philpott, who replaced John Ford, a lifelong Democrat. Also still serving is Christy Khoury, county treasurer and Vickie Edgerly, district clerk. If anyone voted for a local candidate ten years ago, they voted for a Democratic candidate. If they tell you different they are not being truthful. So you see it is dirty pool to claim a person should or should not be elected because they voted for one party or the other in the past. Example: If a voter today votes for a local candidate, he will vote the Republican ticket. If the tide changes and ten years from now the Democratic Party is the popular party, would you blame the voter for voting Republican 10 years earlier? I tell you what polarization has done; it has driven down the votes. Today, because of so much local partisanship, voters are staying away from the polls. In the Merritt/Mark White race for sheriff, 20,000 votes were cast. In this Primary, the total in any race will not exceed 12,000, even in a presidential election year. Local voters are being driven away from the polls. There is only one answer. Instead of inviting voters to join in on the voting, polarization deems that if you ever voted for one party, you are not welcome in the other. They don’t want competition. I bet you will find that Orange County is one of a few in the state that has candidates in only one party. Whoever wins March 3rd is elected with no opposition in the General Election. If Orange County had a two-party system, twice as many people would vote. Over 50,000 citizens are registered, unfortunately only a fraction will vote. It’s a right we should all observe. Locally we have some good candidates running. Take time to vote, plus it’s also a National Primary for the Democratic Party. One or the other. Please vote.

CITY MANAGER KNUST WELCOMED

The Wednesday Lunch Bunch had a great outing at Robert’s last week. The occasion was to welcome the new Orange city manager Mike Knust. Judge John Gothia introduced Mayor Larry Spears, who in turn introduced Knust. The large crowd included longtime friend Beth Rach, who has been battling cancer over the past eight months. She’s lost a lot of weight but is as pretty as ever.  Attending also was Pearl Harbor survivor, 98 year old Cedric Stout and wife Cherry, who were greeted with a standing ovation. The place was loaded with office holders including all four of the Justice of the Peace officials, Judge Stagner, Judge Jenkins, Judge Simonton and Judge Price. Also attending were tax assessor Karen Fisher, county treasurer Christy Khoury, commissioner Kirk Roccaforte and from the city of Orange attendees were councilman Brad Childs and Paul Burch. Constable candidate Brad Frye, who was running a little late because of a four year old boy found walking alone in the middle of the street. He was wearing girl’s shoes on the wrong feet. Brad had to see about this little one before coming to the meeting. Others I recall attending were Lamar’s president Dr. Tom Johnson, wearing his Wednesday bowtie, Van Choate and candidate for judge Rex Peveto, former peace officer David Bailey, Marlene Merritt, Robert Simonton, Pam Honeycutt, port commissioner Keith Wallace and Stephanie Roberts, who was recently honored by Bridge City Chamber of Commerce,  I know I’m missing some. Sorry I didn’t have a list. Some footnotes: The City of Orange is in good hands with Mayor Spears, who is really a class act. Larry told an emotional story about Judge Chad Jenkins, who preformed the inquest when Larry’s dad passed away a few weeks ago. It was a very difficult time for the family and Judge Jenkins embraced the entire family. Larry said through tears, “He had given them comfort and had treated him like a son.”  That really doesn’t surprise me about Chad. Roy gave a historical look at how the city manager form of government came about in Orange and who the players were. Judge Gothia gave an optimistic view of the future of Orange County. I apologize to those I missed. This week the Bunch dines at Southern Comfort. Next week, the day after election, the Lunch Bunch will dine at Robert’s. That should be lively get together. Everyone always welcome.

KOBE REMEMBERED BY MILLIONS

Millions of people around the world used Social Media to express shock and sadness over the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash. Tens of thousands of people flocked to the Staples Center to pay their respects where Bryant had starred for the Lakers during a 20 year career that included five NBA championships. Monday, 20,000 people filled the Center for a memorial service. I t was noted that this was probably the greatest amount of talent ever assembled under one roof. Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, shared with the crowd what made her husband special off the court and why they admired daughter “Gigi” one of their four daughters. Vanessa said, “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other, He had to take them both.” Her 25 minute speech prompted ripples of laughter and left some people wiping tears from their eyes. Seven other friends and family members, en route to an amateur Athletic Union game, along with pilot Ara Zobayan, were killed in the crash on Jan. 26. The memorial service was held on 2-24-2020 in honor of  Gigi’s number 2, Koby’s number 24, his 20 years with the Lakers and Kobe and Vanassa’s 20 years marriage. A practicing Catholic, Vanessa and Kobe and their daughters were often seen attending Mass. Vanassa’s faith may be one of the most important resources that she has. Among those attending were Beyonce, Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Lakers GM Jerry West, Lakers legends Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Lakers coach Phil Jackson, Spurs Tim Duncan and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Olympian Michael Phelps, NBA legend Bill Russell, Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union and a very tearful Michael Jordan, who said Kobe was like his little brother.

TURNING BACK THE HANDS OF TIME

10 Years Ago-2010

We were sorry to hear of the death of Wendy Zavada Scow, only 38 years old. She passed away Feb. 26 after a lengthy illness. Services were March 2. The Orange native was the daughter of Darlene and Bob Zavada. To her husband Joe, daughter Madison and the entire family we extend our deepest sympathies.***** H.D. and Pat Pate traveled the back roads last weekend through Lake Arthur, Pecan Island and other small towns to make their way to Abbeville. A nice trip and they claim they had the best food they had ever eaten at Shucks. H.D. said “Sassy Shrimp” is a special treat, dipped in Steen syrup and hot sauce and broiled. I’ve personally found all the items on the menu I’ve tried are hard to beat. By the way, happy birthday this week to Pat Pate. Going to Abbeville was a birthday trip.*****Other folks celebrating this week are former sheriff Mike White, Cathy Kimbrow, Rick Trahan and Carolyn Sheppard.*****The Monday Houston Chronicle carried a great story on Earl Thomas, a West Orange-Stark grad. Thomas has left the University of Texas football team with two years left to join the NFL draft. Since childhood he has been a Cowboy fan and would like to play in Texas; if he does it will likely be with the Houston Texans who have the 20th pick. His decision was all about family and getting his parents out of his grandparent’s home. Earl said, “They have taken care of me all my life, it’s going to feel good to finally be able to take care of them.” University of Texas tackle Adam U. Latoski said, “People look up to Earl, he’s a great player who’s smart and has a good attitude.” Colt McCoy said, “Earl’s going to be one hell of a player in the NFL.” Tuesday Earl went through the NFL Combine seen on the NFL Network.*****Buckshot” Winfree was at the hospital Monday getting his sinuses fixed. He wasn’t getting the full aroma of good food. He’s fixed now and he and Montaigne are ready to get back on the restaurant tour. *****Jay Leno slipped back into his old NBC 10:30 p.m. time slot. He started off Monday with two extremes, Sarah Palin from the radical right and Adam Lambert, from the extreme left.*****Saturday night found an overflow crowd at Peggy’s on the Bayou. Spotted was pretty Robin Lusignan, who recently celebrated a birthday. In her group was her mom Edna, with her husband and a group of friends including longtime friend Janice Overman. Janice’s husband Lyle provides the great music at Peggy’s. Richard was out back cooking hundreds of pounds of nice sized crawfish. Tuesday he was in bed with walking pneumonia.***** The Orange County sheriff’s office, along with other agencies, made a big drug bust Monday night between Vidor and Orange. Homes, autos and weapons were seized. A release from the sheriff’s office was being held up by U.S. Marshals making it too late for my deadline.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Obituaries 10 Years Ago-2010

Amelia Jean Swearingen, 87, of Orange, passed away Tuesday, Feb. 23. She had lived in Orange since 1947. She is survived by sons, Stephen K. Swearingen and David S. Swearingen, 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. *****Penny Anne Franklin, 51, of Orange, passed away Wednesday, Feb. 17. Service was held Feb. 20. She was employed as a math teacher at Westbrook High School in Beaumont where she had also coached soccer and swimming. She enjoyed martial arts and was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She had been recognized as Teacher of the Year by Sam’s Club.  She is survived by her parents, Earl Franklin Jr. and Carol Franklin; sister, Donna Lee Harris; brother, Michael Franklin; nieces and nephews. *****Bernard “Jiggs” Pinder, 54, died Tuesday, Feb. 23. A visitation only was held Feb. 26. Jiggs was a lifelong resident of Orange. He worked as a ship fitter at various ship yards. Jiggs was survived by his wife, Ethel Pinder; parents, Arthur and Diane Pinder; son, Daniel Pinder; daughter; Jennifer Pinder; and grandchildren.

40 Years Ago-1980

The building has arrived for the Bridge City/Orangefield Community Center. According to publicity chairman Roy Dunn, “We are just waiting on good weather so the foundation can be laid, then the building will be erected.” Dunn and his partners have donated the property that will house the community center baseball fields and other projects. *****Walmart opens its doors in Bridge City on March 4. Frank Boren of Atkins, Ark. is the manager. He is being transferred from Crockett, Texas. He and wife Brenda have one son, Brant. Sam Walton was in attendance to open his 280th store. Over 100 city, county and area dignitaries attended the ribbon-cutting. Bridge City Mayor Gordon Harvey and County Judge Pete Runnels assisted in the ribbon-cutting with Miss Bridge City, Teresa Hearn. Roy Dunn was master of ceremonies. “Mr. Sam” commented that this was one of their finest stores and the response to the opening was the best they ever received throughout their chain. (Editor’s note: The Bridge City store was the very first Walmart store in the area. The other Triangle stores came later. It was the 280th store with locations only in Arkansas and Texas. Now Walmart is worldwide with thousands of stores. *****Betty and Corky Harmon will host a birthday party for Uncle Jim McKay’s 95th birthday. Jim “The Fisherman” McKay, lives alone, does his own cooking and shopping and anything he wants to do. He is famous for his pie baking and catfish catching. (Editor’s note: Jim lived to be 101 and is buried in Orange. He had no family and counted as one of his many friends, “Pretty Boy Floyd’s” family. Floyd’s brother was a sheriff and Jim visited him often. He told many stories and could entertain for hours. Many families around Orange befriended him. He lived in the Opportunity Valley News office building where he prepared meals for the staff.)*****While visiting in Talcahuano, Chili, Joe Romano took a picture of a car that had a Harmon Chevrolet sticker on it. He brought the picture back to show that the Orange auto dealer is truly international. *****Happy birthday this week to the lovely Vickie Drake Brown. Also celebrating is Truby Shelton, Elaine Stansberry, Nita Williams, Alveda Williams and Nancy Staudt. *****Doing well is Maurice Gillet who had part of one thumb removed at M.D. Anderson. The thumb was removed due to diseased cancer tissue. *****The Orange Service League sponsored an old fashion western party at the Old Timer’s Pavilion. Some of the cow pokes and their cowgirls were Earl and Pat Geis, Barbara and Larry David, Diana and Brooks Hill, Bette and Phil Honeycutt, Karen and Bill Slade, Barbara and Jim Dawes, Elizabeth and Dr. Howard Williams and Fran and Hugh Meindl.

A FEW HAPPENINGS

 Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lenten season which will last 40 days until Easter. Some Christians, throughout this religious season, give up something special to them as a sacrifice. *****Judge Derry Dunn was in New York last week. A Mauriceville boy in New York, that should be a good story. I wonder if he visited his cousin at Dun and Bradstreet. *****A few folks we know celebrating birthdays this week. On Feb. 24, port commissioner Carroll Holt, celebrates. Here’s a guy that has had many accomplishments in community service. When he believes in a project he doesn’t let go. *** Feb. 27 is our friend Anna Belle Rost, who reaches the “Golden” age of 85. She’s a wonderful, Christian woman. Also celebrating on this day are these good folks David Claybar, Butch Choate and Darrel’s better half Gretta Brinson. ***On Feb. 28 finds Ginger Romero celebrating. ***On Feb. 29, longtime buddy Logan Dubose celebrates. ***Craig Nugent has a birthday on March 2. ***Election Day is March 3. *****I enjoyed Joe Kazmar’s column last week on his grandson Logan Smith, a pitcher at West Point. Over the weekend, Joe and Susan attended the A&M/Army game at College Station where Logan was due to start either Friday or Saturday. I look forward to Kaz’s Corner this week. *****It’s hard to believe Bridge City Walmart turns 40 years old this Wednesday. I believe there is a special celebration going on. Forty years ago, Roy and Pete Runnels, just youngsters at the time, participated in the grand opening. Roy tells the story about him and Mr. Sam Waldon visiting in the lounge for an hour before the celebration. A visit Roy never forgot. For years a picture of Mr. Sam and Roy hung in the store.

BREAUX BIRTHDAYS

Folks celebrating birthdays in the next few days. Feb. 26: Betty Sherman, Claudia Williams, LeeAnn Fuselier and Amanda Beeson all celebrate today.*****Feb. 27: Celebrating on this day are Pamela Buchfield, Butch Coate, Lindsey Moreau.*****Feb. 28: Kurt Reeves and Royce Pendergast all celebrate today.*****Feb. 29: Tabitha Iles, Kevin Jones and Will Brinson are a year older on this day.*****March 1: Having birthdays today are Deedra Black, Jill Culp and Robert Foster.*****March 2: Kay Butler and Tommy Andrus celebrate on this day.*****March 3: Lori Bonds, Joan Broussard, Donna Sullivan and Carolyn Miller are a year older today.

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS

Feb. 26: Rock singer Michael Bolton turns 66, actors Teresa Palmer, 33 and Carlos Esparza, 29.*****Feb. 27: Pop singer Josh Groban, 36, actors Timothy Spall, 62 and Kate Mara, 36.*****Feb. 28: Country singer Jason Aldean, 43, chef Ainsley Harriott, 62 and Rock singer Patrick Monahan, 50.*****Feb. 29: Motivational Speaker Tony Robbins, 60 and actor Ken Foree, 72.*****March 1: Pop singers Justin Bieber turns 25 and Kesha is 32, movie director Ron Howard will be 65.*****March 2: Rock singer Jon Bon Jovi will be 57, actress Rebel Wilson, 39 and football player Reggie Bush, 34.*****March 3: actors Julie Bowen, 48, Christian Oliver, 47 and Nathalie Kelley 34.

CAJUN STORY OF THE WEEK

Poul-Do Babineaux sent his boy Gater to Baton Rouge, da Capital, for to get Poul-Do’s birth certificate. Him, he wants to apply for some benefits. In about one hour Gater him, return to Breaux Bridge.

His Papa is upset and he axe Gater, “Why don’t you go to Baton Rough like I toll you, hanh?” Gater answer, “Mais Papa, da bridge at Whiskey Bay, it was raised straight up on boat sides. I couldn’t cross me. Tee-Tom Comeaux, da bridge operator toll me dere was no use waiting, a tug pushing a barge full of Viagra had turned over in da river. Dat Viagra in da water had drawn boat’ of dem bridge spans straight up towards da sky and it could last for up to four hours. Tee-Tom say if dey don’t come down by den, dey would call da bridge doctor to take necessary steps to try and bring dem down.”

C’EST TOUT

HOW YOU CAN TELL WHEN IT’S GOING TO BE

A ROTTEN DAY

• You wake up face down on the pavement.

• You put your bra on backward and it fits better.

• You call Suicide Prevention Hotline and they put you on hold. 

• You see a “60 Minutes” news team waiting in your office. 

• Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles. 

• You want to put on the clothes you wore home from the party and there aren’t any. 

• You turn on the news and they’re showing emergency routes out of the city. 

• Your twin sister forgot your birthday. 

• You wake up and discover your waterbed broke and then realize you don’t have a waterbed. 

**********

Thanks for your time, mine is up. Here’s hoping your candidate wins but remember he can’t if you don’t vote. Take care and God bless.