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On Thursday, August 21, 2014, around 12:15 a.m., an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy conducted a traffic stop on a 2010 Chrysler four door passenger vehicle on IH-10 Eastbound at the 865 mile marker for following too close. The Deputy became suspicious after questioning the driver and a passenger, which led to consent to search his vehicle. The Deputy located approximately 400 grams of cocaine wrapped in duct tape and plastic, hidden in the trunk. The driver was identified as 29 year old black male Tyronne Gillin and the passenger was identified as 23 year old black female Erica Patin, both of New Orleans, Louisiana. Gillin and Patin were placed under arrest of Possession of a Controlled Substance, a 1st Degree Felony, and booked into the Orange County Jail. During the book-in process, it was discovered that Patin had 67 illegally possessed prescription pills identified as Tramadol, hidden in clear plastic packaging under her clothing. Patin faced an additional charge of a Class B misdemeanor for Possession of a Controlled Substance. Justice of the Peace Precinct #1, Judge David Peck, arraigned Gillin and set his bond at $50,000. Patin’s bond was set at $51,000. Both Gillin and Patin remain in custody at the Orange County Jail.

The Orange City Council is considering a $27.6 million budget for the new fiscal year. More than half of that amount will be spent to pay salaries and benefits of city employees. The city has 194 full-time workers and two part-time. Many of them work for the police and fire departments. City Manager Shawn Oubre presented a break-down of the expenses in a letter to the council. The city pays 58.5 percent of the budget on personnel. The next largest expenditure category is for maintenance and services with 24.1 percent. Those items would include keeping the water and sewer departments running, plus the police cars and fire trucks in good condition.
Debt service takes up 10.8 percent of the budget. Debt service is the payments the city makes each year to pay back loans acquired through issuing bonds.
The city spends 3.9 percent on capital outlay. The category covers the purchase of equipment like dump trucks and police cars.
Supplies for operating the city departments takes up 2.7 percent of the budget.
The City Council will have a public hearing on the proposed budget during a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the auditorium next to the Orange Public Library. The proposed budget has a slight decrease in the property tax rate and a small increase in water and sewer charges.

A woman living in the 2200 block of Coronado Place left her SUV running in the driveway Tuesday morning to go back into her house for a couple of minutes. That's all the time someone needed to steal the vehicle. The woman called Orange police at 7:38 a.m. to report that her 2011 gray Kia Sorento was stolen.
Johnny Manziel isn't the only person getting in trouble for his gestures. A man from Orange was arrested late Monday morning for resisting arrest after police went to check on complaints about a man making "inappropriate gestures." Officer Patrick McDonald went to the 2200 block of 16th Street at 11:25 a.m. He reported that a man was "flipping off cars" because he heard speakers "saying his name." McDonald said he found a bag in the man's pocket that was labeled KUSH, a brand of synthetic marijuana. The man tried to run off but McDonald caught him. The officer reported the man tried to push away from him. The officer said he had to place the man on the hood of his car. The man still had to be forcefully handcuffed, the officer said. Perry Lee Heard Jr. was taken to the Orange County Jail for misdemeanor resisting arrest. Officer McDonald said the bag of KUSH had an "unusable amount" of the drug.
Police had to go to a house on Circle C twice Tuesday morning because an intoxicated woman was breaking windows in a house. Officer Patrick McDonald reported he first went to the house at 6:58 a.m. He allowed the woman's husband to take her back to their house nearby. Then at 10:27 a.m. police were called back to the house because the woman had returned. Nina Michelle Garcia was arrested for misdemeanor public intoxication.
Other Orange police calls include:
Burglary, 8:06 a.m. Monday, The Horseman Store at 519 Lutcher Drive. Someone broke inside the store and stole three Wrangler classic western shirts and a 34-inch Nocona leather belt.
Larceny from a vehicle, 8:41 a.m. Monday, Amaryllis Street. Wallet with cash, credit cards and identification stolen.
Unauthorized use of a vehicle, 11:43 a.m. Monday, 800 block Sixth Street. Someone the victim knows threw a brick through the window of her car while she was driving. The brick hit her in the face. When she got out, she got out of the car, the other person got inside a drove away.
Larceny from yard, 1:41 a.m. Monday, 6700 block Guy Lane. A red Huffy riding lawn mower was stolen.
Burglary, 2:42 p.m. Monday, 300 block Camellia Avenue. Owner discovered that about $8,000 worth of jewelry and watches was stolen, along with a 32-inch TV. Entry was made by breaking a back window.
Larceny from yard, 1:38 p.m. Tuesday, 600 block 13th Street. Push-style lawn mower was stolen from inside a fenced yard.

Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Derry Dunn isn't sitting on his bench wearing a robe these days. He's propped up in bed, wearing shorts, with a small medical device connected to hoses taped around the calf of his right leg. Every couple of minutes the machine starts up and makes a noise. It's a wound vacuum doing its job to help heal the two large holes in Dunn's leg. The bedside table is covered in prescription pill bottles of all sizes. But at least he's home in Mauriceville. He spent 14 of the past 16 days in hospitals. Dunn is a survivor of what is called 'flesh-eating' bacteria. He contracted the bacteria while in the Gulf of Mexico during a family reunion at Crystal Beach. On Tuesday, he and his wife Jane were joking and laughing about the past few days. She pointed out, though, that she's had a lot of tears, too. "It was so fast it was insane," she said about the spread of the bacteria. He faced the possibility of having the leg amputated. Some people die. "It just got so severe so quick," he said. "You're going along in your life and all of a sudden you're making a decision: Do I want to keep my leg?" more

Budget workshops for the county have been held the last couple of weeks and will continue next week as well. During discussions at the workshop this afternoon the topic of the county needing to borrow money to pay bills for the final quarter was raised. County Auditor Mary Johnson joined County Judge Carl Thibodeaux and Commissioner John Banken in agreement on the strong possibility the county will need to borrow money. Thibodeaux said the county will need to include the interest in next year’s budget, but Banken does not want to wait until the last minute like last year. Johnson said County Treasurer Christy Khoury and Assistant District Attorney Doug Manning would need to get the ball rolling to borrow the money. Khoury is on vacation this week, but Thibodeaux said he will get with her when she gets back to work out details of the loan.

Lamar State-Port Arthur conferred 122 degrees, certificates at Summer 2014 Commencement. Lamar State College-Port Arthur awarded 59 two-year associate degrees and 63 certificates of completion at its Summer 2014 Commencement Ceremony held Friday, August 15 at the Parker Center in Port Arthur. Carl A. Parker, a member of the Texas Legislature for more than 30 years and for whom the Parker Center was named, was the keynote speaker. Much of his talk focused on Dr. W. Sam Monroe, who is retiring later this month after four decades as president of the college, and the work the two men did to grow Lamar State College-Port Arthur. Those graduates from Orange County include- Orange: Jacob Blain Viator (Kinesiology), Blair Bishop (Vocational Nursing), Deborah Ruth Duke (Vocational Nursing); Bridge City: Erica Rae Green (Surgical Technology); Michael McElroy (Instrumentation Technology); Breanna Nicole Smith (Surgical Technology), Kathryn Ann Beebe (Vocational Nursing); Vidor: Jill Annette Kunst (Vocational Nursing).

The 8-26-14 agendas for the Orange Economic Development Corporation meeting and the Orange City Council meeting are now online at

Orange County Sheriff's Calls Aug. 12-19 

Enterprise Products may be the big one that got away from Orange County since Enterprise decided to build their billion dollar liquid petroleum plant on the Houston Ship Channel instead of in Orange County. The county still made a strong impression with Enterprise according to Orange County Commissioner David Dubose who met with officials from Enterprise Products August 15. Dubose and Orange County Economic Development Director Bobby Fillyaw both talked with vice-presidents from Enterprise which invested about 180 million dollars in the county when it was looking to build the plant on the Neches River in western Orange County. Dubose said Enterprise told him that Orange County is still on their “radar”, and Dubose informed them that Orange County is still open for business and encouraged them that the county is open to any future endeavors they might have in Orange County.

Bridge City is still working to fix the problem with the city’s water system. City Manager Jerry Jones says despite new pumps and numerous flushings the water problem is not resolved. The city is trying to control the problem right now. Many of the areas that were having problems are not having a problem, but other areas have popped up with the brown water. Jones is hopeful the city is making some progress and with reduced flow as the summer ends the problem will gradually decrease. City Manager Jones adds they are looking at a filtering system for the main well in the water system. The initial cost of the filtering system would be close to a half a million dollars with a monthly maintenance cost of about 10 thousand dollars for all three wells. Longtime Bridge City resident Margaret Jones complains the discolored water in the city is nothing new for her.
Jones told the city council she has had water problems for many, many years. She addressed the problem as far back as Mayor P. M. Wood in Bridge City. Jones brought Wood quarts of water with sediments and her neighbor actually had the city buy her laundry that was discolored by the water. She was one of a half dozen citizens that spoke to the city council. Mayor Kirk Roccaforte understands the citizens’ concerns and assured them the city’s workers are doing all they can to fix the problem. Roccaforte says the workers in the city’s water department are well trained and are working extremely hard to fix the problem. The mayor said he is behind them all the way. Roccaforte encourages all citizens with any problem, water or other issues, should bring it to the city council.

Public hearings were held by the City Council in Bridge City Tuesday on the budget and ad valorem tax for the fiscal year. There were no citizen comments on either during the hearings. The City Council will vote to approve the 47.8 cents per 100 dollars valuation tax rate at the September 16 council meeting. City Manager Jerry Jones updated the city council on storm related projects in Bridge City. Most of the projects being done with storm related grant money are closing down, and if they can be completed by the end of the year Jones indicates Bridge City might be eligible for leftover money from other grants to do more projects. Next Wednesday Bridge City officials and engineers hired by the city to appeal federal flood maps will meet with FEMA at the Community Center in Bridge City to discuss the appeal. The public is welcome to attend the meeting at 1:00 PM. In other business the city council approved a new contract with the Bridge City Police Association. City Manager Jones said the negotiations were good and all sides were pleased with the contract.

The Brown Hangar at the Orange County Airport has been an eyesore for months. Commissioner John Banken has asked county Maintenance Director Mark Wimberley for some projections on what it would cost to fix it up. Banken repeated his request Monday. Banken expressed concern about the appearance of the old hangar, but also was curious to how much it will cost to make it look better and wants to look at some numbers though. He asked Wimberley if there were any bids on painting the hangar. Wimberley referred the question to Emergency Management Director Jeff Kelley who has had some dealing with the hangar. Kelley said the latest bids for painting and repairs on the hangar are about 3 ½ years old. Banken and Wimberley agreed to get together to see what can be done with the hangar. The first step towards addressing the problem occurred Tuesday morning as Wimberley and Jeff Kelley met with Banken at the airport. The structure of the hangar is in good shape, has a little surface rust that needs to be hand cleaned, primed, and painted according to Banken. Kelley is working on a project for that and should have the details put together in a few months. Banken is sure the project will be in next year’s budget. There had been questions to the safety of the hangar to paint it, but Banken confirms that should be not a problem upon his inspection Tuesday.

Two public hearings on the county budget and the proposed tax rate were approved by the Commissioners’ Court Monday. Commissioners at the recommendation of County Judge Carl Thibodeaux approved using .5440 as the proposed rate for next year, which is the same as last year’s tax rate. The dates of the two public hearings in September were also recommended by Judge Thibodeaux as Monday, September 8, at 1 PM and Monday, September 15, at 6 PM. He said this will satisfy the Texas statutes dealing with truth in taxation and still allow the Commissioners’ Court to vote on the tax rate on the 22nd. September 22 is the target date set by Thibodeaux for approval of the new budget and tax rate.

Tax Assessor Lynda Gunstream requested Monday the Commissioners’ Court approving her filling one of two clerk’s positions in the tax office that will be vacant by the end of August. Commissioners Jody Crump and John Banken asked if Gunstream could wait until the new fiscal year to fill one of the positions. Gunstream said the timing would be tough for her office since that is the start of the tax season when her office gets busier, and she would want to train a new clerk some before the peak time. Gunstream has been willing to work with one less clerk, but two less clerks is making it difficult. After much discussion Judge Thibodeaux called for the vote with Commissioner Crump respectfully voting against the motion to hire the clerk at this time, saying he preferred waiting until October. As an elected official Gunstream was not required to seek Commissioners’ Court approval to fill the position. Commissioners approved Monday Sabrina Gray to purchase stage lighting for the Expo Center’s main ball room. The need for an audio-visual system to be installed in the ball room which is where most exhibitions are held may wait until a budget meeting on next year’s budget.

The Orange City Council didn't have any fireworks about a fireworks show. Monday afternoon the council had its first budget workshop and didn't argue with City Manager Shawn Oubre added $20,000 to cover a Fourth of July fireworks show. "Yay!" exclaimed Councilwoman Mary McKenna. "Thank you," was the reply from Councilwoman Theresa Beauchamp. The council last month discussed the possibility of having a fireworks show at the Riverfront Pavilion on Labor Day. However, council members said they thought Orange should have an Independence Day fireworks show. For nearly 30 years, a local business sponsored the fireworks show but quit five years ago. The proposed 2014-15 budget totals $27.6 million. The new budget also calls for a slight decrease in the property tax rate and a 2.7 percent increase in water and sewer rates. City employees are in line for a 2 percent cost of living pay raise. The council was set to have a closed-door executive session at the end of the workshop to discuss Oubre’s contract. However, City Attorney Jack Smith could not attend the meeting and the review will be postponed.

Melissa Davis, a teacher at Mauriceville Elementary in Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD, will serve in a new leadership position as she heads back to school for 2014-15. On August 1, she began a one-year term as a district director for the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, a non-union professional association for teachers, librarians, counselors and other classroom professionals with 50,000 members across the state. Davis was elected in June by TCTA members from District 5 — a six-county area that includes Tyler and Orange — who attended the TCTA’s state convention in Fort Worth. She will represent District 5 TCTA members on the TCTA Directors’ Council, which sets policy for the statewide association, and she will assist leaders of TCTA local affiliates in her district. “I was honored to be elected as district director, and I am looking forward to serving the teachers of District 5,” Davis said. A TCTA member for five years, Davis also serves as the president of the TCTA local affiliate in LCM CISD.

Alcohol, gasoline and lighters don't mix well. Orange police had a 9-1-1 call Friday night at 9:39 concerning a man throwing gasoline on another man and setting a fire. However, no one was seriously hurt. Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave said the people involved were drinking and no one wanted to file charges. Officer M.T. Roush reported that he went to the 200 block of Farragut Street. A man told him that someone he knew took his cell phone. He found the man at First and Curtis streets and got his phone back and went home. The second man went to the house and threatened to set the resident on fire. He had a plastic drink bottle with gasoline and threw gas toward his target and pulled out a lighter. The intended victim ran away. However, the man with the gasoline and the lighter accidentally caught fire and rode away on a bike. Captain Hargrave said officers found the man and he had burns on his ankle. He refused medical treatment and the target of the thrown gasoline didn't want to file charges.

Orange police didn't have far to drive to take a suspected drunk driver to jail Friday night. Officer D.B Mulhollan reported that he was called to an accident at 8:48 p.m. Friday in the 200 block of Border Street, the same block as the Orange County Jail. A red pickup truck had been traveling northbound, left the roadway and hit a utility pole with the passenger side outside mirror. Then the truck ran front ways into another utility pole. The driver, a 53-year-old man from Orange, was not hurt but was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Also during the weekend, copper thefts were reported at a house in the 600 block of Bridal Wreath and in the 3500 block of Bowling Lane. A burglary at a house in the 3000 block of 16th Street was discovered Sunday morning. Someone got inside the house between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. and stole a 32-inch TV. At 12.22 a.m. Monday, a woman living at a house in the 1500 block of Church Street was awakened by a loud noise. She walked to the kitchen for a phone and found herself walking on broken glass from a window. She called 9-1-1. Police discovered had thrown a rock through the window but apparently did not get inside.

On Wednesday, August 13, 2014, around 10:30 a.m., Orange County Sheriff’s Narcotics Deputies conducted a search warrant at 1215 Hwy 12, Apartment A, in Vidor, stemming from an investigation of illegal drug activity. During the search warrant, Deputies found approximately 40 grams of Methamphetamine in the residence. The occupants of the residence, all from Vidor, were arrested and booked into the Orange County Jail for Possession of a Controlled Substance, a 2nd Degree Felony. The names of those arrested were (left to right): Christian Swaim, 33 year old white female, Ginger Swaim, 57 year old white female; Annabelle Swaim, 32 year old white female; Christopher John Smith, 31 year old white male; James Townsend, 26 year old white male. Justice of the Peace of Precinct #1, Judge David Peck, set a bond of $5,000 on each of the arrestees for the Possession of a Controlled Substance charge. Christopher Smith also had four warrants for Class B misdemeanors, which increased his total bond to $7,000, and Annabelle Swaim had four Class C Misdemeanor warrants for traffic violations, which increased her bond to $6,000.

Local Weather Radar

Painters on Friday were giving new brightness to the corbels and other wood trimmings on the 100-year-old former sanctuary of the First Baptist Church. The Stark Foundation bought the church campus and has been renovating the downtown buildings to be used for lectures and other foundation activities. A night-time fire in late March damaged the dome of the church while a new roof was under construction. The foundation reported the fire did little damage to the main building. A new dome has since been installed and other improvements are underway. The church congregation moved to a new building in the Little Cypress area last year.
5pm Friday - STRONG now in custody
On Friday, August 15, Detectives with the Orange Police Department obtained an arrest warrant for 24 year old Devin R. Strong. Strong is wanted for the robbery of a pizza delivery driver that occurred on August 2. Strong is also a person of interest in several other similar crimes that occurred recently in the Orange area east of 16th St. Strong is not in custody at this time and his location is unknown. Anyone with information on the location of Devin Strong, please call the Orange Police Department at 409-883-1026.
FOUND - Female dog. Orangefield Area. FM 105 and 1135.
Call 814-688-2244

A former church music minister indicted in two North Texas counties for sexual assault of a child is a former Bridge City resident and previously worked with churches in Bridge City. 23-year-old Garrett Kyler surrendered to authorities this week. He has been indicted on the felony counts in Dallas and Rockwall counties. Kyler attended Bridge City High School but did not graduate from the school. He has also worked as a music minister for a Beaumont Methodist church.

Friday Judge Courtney Arkeen of the 128th District Court ruled that two of the six 15-year sentences against Joshua Luke McDonald will be served consecutively. McDonald pleaded guilty in June to six counts of sexual assault involving two females under the age of 17 back in 2011 and 2012. An 8 man, 4 woman jury in the 128th District Court heard evidence Monday and Tuesday during the sentencing phase of the case. The jury deliberated about 3 ½ hours before sentencing McDonald on Wednesday to 15 years in state prison on each of the 6 counts against him. Judge Arkeen’s ruling today was made on a motion by District Attorney Phillip Smith who tried the case for the prosecution. Smith explained he sought to have at least two of the sentences stacked because there were two victims in the case, and thus there should be two punishments, one for each victim in this case.

Marriage License: Issued By The Office of Karen Jo Vance, Orange County Clerk For the Week of August 11, 2014 thru August 15, 2014. Weston W. Dillon and Danielle M. Howland, Stefan F. Cloeren and Victoria K. Summers, Junior A. Ventura Paulino and Michelle Borrero, Benjamin K. Jackson and Brittany K. Ozio, Robert E. Clayton III and Sarah J. Wion, Jared M. Ronning and Jordan D. Leger, Collin L. White and Kailey A. McQuary, Damien L. LeBlanc and Sarah N. Holland, Brian L. Belden and Monica D. Crowell, Link G. Roberts and Angelis D. Jenkins, John L. Womack and Morgan D. Taylor, Michael D. Rainwater and Crystal L. Schexnider, Herbert L. Myers and Christy D. Wright, Jeremy R. Vincent and Stacey Seago.

What's happening around town?  Check the Happenings page!

People in the city of Orange might have to pay a little extra on their monthly water and sewer bills starting in October. City Manager Shawn Oubre is proposing the city have a 3.4 percent increase in water and sewer rates. If a household pays $50 a month for water and sewer, the increase would add $1.70 a month. Oubre and the city staff gave City Council the proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year this week. In a letter to the council members, the manager said the water and sewer fund has a $606,000 deficit in the current budget year. The city did not raise rates last year but can make up the loss from savings in the reserve fund. The water and sewer departments operate under a separate "enterprise" budget. That means the services are supposed to pay for themselves with revenues made through charges to customers. The new budget also includes a 2.7 percent increase in the costs of garbage pick-up by Waste Management. The new rate for a residence with one cart will be $21.34 a month. Oubre is also suggesting a 2 percent cost of living raise for all city employees. City Council this week agreed to set a property tax rate of 68.13 cents per $100 valuation, a slight decrease from the current rate of 69 cents per $100 valuation.
The total expenditures in the proposed budget are at $27.6 million. If the city operates according to the plans in the budget without emergencies, the city should have almost $9.7 million in reserve funds for savings.
City Council will hold public workshops to review the proposed budget and make changes. A final vote on the budget, and any increases in fees, will be taken in September when the council officially adopts the budget. The first workshop will be 4 p.m. Monday in the Ira Williamson meeting room inside the Orange Public Library. The agenda includes a closed-door executive session for the council to review Oubre’s contract and salary for the new fiscal year. Any decision will be made during a public vote.

In June and July the water in Bridge City was as dark as tea and sour tasting. Since the end of July, Bridge City has been working to fix the problem. Tests showed pumps were discharging too much chemical in the water. City Manager Jerry Jones says the pumps have been fixed, but the city’s efforts are continuing to improve the quality of the water in Bridge City. Some improvement has been seen in the water and there are fewer calls about dirty water. One pump has been replaced and the system had been flushed to eliminate the excess chemicals in the water. Jones adds that the city will continue to make improvements to the water because the city does not want this condition to happen again. Jones indicates the city is checking the calibration on the pumps weekly now, and having them tested monthly.

Sewer projects have occupied a lot of Pinehurst City Administrator Joe Parkhurst’s time the last 12 months. Parkhurst said he is glad to be through with two long term projects as of Friday. The 34th Street Lift Station project is completed and the Whippoorwill Street sewer rehabilitation project is completed as well. The walk through on both projects will be done Friday, August 15. Pinehurst municipal judge Derry Dunn will be out for a while because of a serious infection in his leg. Answering the call was Jerry Pennington who serves as the municipal judge for the city of Orange. Pinehurst City Administrator Joe Parkhurst said Pennington volunteered to help the city of Pinehurst. Parkhurst expressed gratitude to Pennington for coming forward to fill in while Judge Dunn is recovering and looks forward to working with Judge Pennington.  Dunn returned home this week from a Houston hospital and is rehabbing at home.

The Orange County Mosquito Control District has kept busy the last two months. The district received over 80 calls during that time and investigated each to determine if treatment was needed. Director of the Mosquito Control District Patrick Beebee tells the level of mosquito activity in the county has been low, moderate, and high in areas of the county over the last two months. Beebee had good news reporting that though mosquito activity levels varied according to location, no mosquito disease activity was found during this period in the areas checked and tested. Beebee adds that development of mosquitoes is low to normal with the highest concentration being found in area roadside ditches. Rains during the month of July caused an increase in mosquito activity. With the increase in mosquitoes the Orange County Mosquito Control District brought out the big gun with the mosquito plane which did more aerial spraying for mosquitoes according to Director of Mosquito Control Patrick Beebee. Twenty-five aerial sprayings were flown in July yielding a total of 71,000 acres treated. Beebee said the Federal Aviation Administration inspected the district’s aerial treatment office in June, and the Mosquito Control District passed with flying colors receiving high marks and no infractions were found with the aircraft, the records keeping, or the facilities. The Mosquito Control District also performed 110 ground treatments during the month of July covering over 96 thousand acres treated.

Tanner Jenkins (left) and Austin Peveto, of the Orangefield FFA Chapter, were awarded the Lone Star FFA Degree at the 86th annual Texas FFA State Convention held July 14-18 in Fort Worth. The Lone Star FFA Degree is the highest degree bestowed by the Texas FFA. The Lone Star FFA Degree recognizes FFA members who have received the Chapter degree, been active FFA members for at least two years, complete at least four semesters of agricultural science at or above the ninth grade level, maintain a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program, demonstrate their leadership skills and show a commitment to the FFA through involvement at the chapter level and above. Jenkins and Peveto were two of more than 2,200 FFA members receiving this esteemed degree.

Teachers and staff at the West Orange-Cove CISD gathered Thursday for the start of a new school year. Superintendent James Colbert gave a multi-media presentation that was part pep rally and part revival to get the staff ready to keep improving. The group had lots to cheer about. The new forms of state accountability ratings came out on Friday. West Orange-Stark Elementary was rated as needs improvement, but the WO-S Middle School and WO-S High School met standards. The middle school even received five of seven possible distinctions for achievements in special categories. "I'm actually very excited about our state data," Colbert said after the presentation. "Obviously our elementary school still can improve." He said the school has a new principal and some new teachers. During the presentation, he received loud applause about the middle school's distinctions, the most of any school in Orange County. He said that school made 20 percent to 30 percent improvements in 2013, then replicated and excelled the rates this year. However, he's most proud of the improvements at the high school, where the algebra scores went up 41 percent and the biology scores went up 18 percent. Staff members got lanyards with WOCCISD Soldier written on them to wear with their identification cards. Colbert compared the teachers and staff as soldiers working together to “go above and beyond and have the tenacity to make sure every student succeeds.” Students in the district will begin classes Monday, August 25. (Teacher Nancy Dallas talks with Supt. James Colbert)

Deweyville Jr. & Sr. High School will host their Meet the Teacher night on Thursday, August 21st from 3PM-5PM. Students will be able to pick up their new schedules and parking passes for the upcoming school year.

Orangefield ISD will host Meet the Teacher at Orangefield Elementary, Orangefield Junior High & Orangefield High School on Wednesday, August 20 from 4PM-6PM.  Student class schedules will be available for pick up at the Junior High and High School.  Parking passes for high school students will be available as well.  Parents/guardians will have the opportunity to deposit money in their students’ lunch accounts on all three campuses.  Spirit and other school items will be available for purchase. More new school year info.

Student orientations and “Meet the Teacher” dates and times have been set for Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD schools. All campuses, except LCM High School will hold their back to school events on Thursday, August 21. more

Look Left and "Cast Your Vote"

The West Orange City Council gave 90-day extensions this week to two home owners who are working to get their properties back into compliance with city codes. Pete Amy owns two properties on Boston Street and Cody Gray owns adjoining properties on Houston Street. Amy has hired a contractor, is in the process of putting plumbing in, and should have windows installed later this week. Amy’s says he has had a problem with thieves stealing copper from his properties. Gray has called the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission to help him on his properties. West Orange Mayor Roy McDonald spoke with a person from the commission who confirmed Gray is on the approved list for demolition and rebuild, but could not provide a timeline of when that will occur. The city council approved giving both men 90 days from the day of their meeting to get their structures up to code. The 90 days will expire November 9. If a further extension is needed, Amy and Gray will need to request it in 60 days which will be October 10.

The Orange City Council is considering installing a round splash pad with fountains to play in at either Navy Park or Sunset Park. The council met Tuesday morning and the park improvements were part of the agenda. Planning Director Jimmie Lewis presented two plans for putting in a splash pad plus a small skate park at one of the parks. Public Works Director Jim Wolf said the splash pad would be 43 feet in diameter. The spray fountains could be turned on and off and would not run all the time. The skate park area would be built of stainless steel and include half of a half pipe used for tricks. District 2 Councilmember Tommy Ferguson suggested that perhaps the city could leave out the skate park and have two splash pads. At-Large Councilmember Larry Spears said the council should have a public workshop so citizens can give their opinions on what to do. District 1 Councilmember Theresa Beauchamp said she liked the idea of having the improvements at Sunset Park because the park would help beautify 16th Street and show off what the city has to offer. However, At-Large Councilmember Bill Mello is concerned about a splash pad at the 16th Street park because of the possibilities of children running into traffic. The total park improvements for the splash pad and skate park will cost about $170,000 for each park. The city has $105,000 in federal community development block grant funds to spend. The rest of the money could come from remaining money in a grant money fund or from the money earned from selling a small part of Memorial Park to an Interstate 10 car dealership. The park development would be in three phases with a final cost of about $400,000.
In other business, the council approved a new property tax rate of 68.13 cents per $100 valuation. That's a slight decrease from the current rate of 69 cents per $100. The city's property tax rate has gone down from 74.5 cents per $100 three years ago. The main reason is because of new industrial district contracts that have the Chemical Row industrial plants paying a larger percentage for in-lieu-of-taxes contracts. The contracts mean the city negotiates to with the industries outside of the city limits, but in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction. The city two years ago began annexation proceedings to annex some of the plants, which then negotiated new contracts.

2014 Atlantic Hurricane Names
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