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Members of the Gate City Masonic Lodge and their families took on cleaning up Simmons Drive Saturday morning. They were among hundreds of community volunteers Saturday picking up trash and garbage for the 20th Annual clean-up sponsored by Shangri La. This year the group concentrated on the Sabine River instead of Adams Bayou. Boaters took crews out into the river. Other groups of volunteers spread across Orange, West Orange and Pinehurst. Trash on streets washes into drainage ditches and culverts and often ends up in the river or bayou.

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 - The Orange City Council will have an extra position up for election on May 9. District 2 Councilmember Tommy Ferguson filed to run for mayor Friday morning. City Secretary Rhonda Haskins said that triggered his resignation from District 2; however he will serve until a successor is chosen.
The Orange City Council has scheduled a called meeting at 8 a.m. Wednesday to set the special election for the District 2 seat. Haskins said the special election will be on May 9 with the other general city election. The city will open a special filing time for people running for District 2. Orange has four single-member districts. A council member for a district must live within the boundaries of the district. District 2 is the Little Cypress area.
The Orange council race has incumbent Mayor Jimmy Sims facing Ferguson and newcomer James "Jim" Bean. For the District 1 seat, retired Orange Police Department Captain Patrick A. Pullen is running against former councilmember Deborah Mitchell. Incumbent Theresa Beauchamp in ineligible because of term limits.
- The Bridge City ISD board election has two contested races. Judy Cole filed Friday to run for Place 2 against incumbent Kirk Ellender. Marla Zoch and Brad Thibodaux are running for Place 1. The incumbent of that seat, Lon Hubbard, is not running.
- The West Orange-Cove school board has five people running for the two open at-large seats for full, three-year terms. Incumbent Eric Mitchell is running but incumbent Pete Amy is not. The other candidates are John H. Gray Jr., Roderick Robertson, Rickey Blagburn and Demetrius D. Hunter. The district also has a special election to fill the one-year unexpired term of the late Mary Kirksey. Carmen Purgahn, Linda Platt-Bryant and Dawn M. Fusilier are running for that seat.
- The Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD will be able to cancel its May 9 election because none of the three open school board positions have contested races. Incumbents David Jones in Position 2 and Tammy Rountree in Position 4 filed. Aubrey Milstead is the only candidate for Position 5. Longtime incumbent of that position, Don Anderson, did not file.
- Orangefield and Deweyville have school board elections in November.

Filing ended Friday for municipal elections in May. Two candidates filed Friday in Pinehurst which means there will be an election between four candidates for three at-large positions on the Pinehurst city council. Former mayor T. W. Permenter and Sarah McClendon will join incumbents Dan Barclay and Dan Mohon on the May 9 ballot. In West Orange, Mayor Roy McDonald is running unopposed for another term. Two at-large positions on the council are on the ballot with three candidates. Former West Orange Mayor and recently retired county judge Carl Thibodeaux, Dr. Frances Lopez who has served previously on the city council, and Billie Trahan are seeking a seat on the West Orange City Council. Bridge City has three places on the ballot. In Place 1 David Rutledge is running unopposed. Tammi Fisette and Steve Quibodeaux are running in Place 3. Incumbent Richard Savoy is being opposed by Terri Gauthier for the Place 5 seat on the council in Bridge City. The elections will be Saturday, May 9, in all three cities.

As the filing deadline ended In Vidor Friday,  Councilman Robert Viator, Jr. is running against current Mayor Kenneth Crawford.  Kelly Carder has signed up to run for Ward 1 and Ted Slaughter for Ward 6.  There will be a contested race in Ward 4 between Matthew DeWitt and incumbent Michael Stephenson.  The Election is May 9.

These LCM Student Musicians were selected to participate in the McNeese High School Honor Band. The students were chosen after being recommended by their band directors in December, and completing rigorous audition process. After participating this weekend, several of the students are now considering scholarship offers from McNeese State University. Students from Louisiana and Texas are invited to audition for the band. The students are given the opportunity to learn from guest conductors, musicians, clinicians and perform a concert. Back row: Chris Garber, Andrew Usie, Austin Slagle, Cody Giouard, Lincoln Causy, Sam Ross, Chris Cook. Front row: Jewell Weeks, Jackie Payne, Ashton Brock, Bree Russell, Jessica Longlois, Callie Choate, Jessica Robertson.
On Friday at 5:25 a.m., a white male entered the Kwick Stop convenience store located at 1427 Strickland Drive in Pinehurst. He approached the clerk and demanded cash from the register. His right hand was concealed in his clothing in a manner indicating he was holding a firearm. After receiving an unknown amount of U.S. Currency, he exited the business and left on foot. The suspect was wearing a blue “Old Navy” hoodie type pullover jacket, white tee shirt and what appears to be denim overalls or a similar type garment. He was wearing blue and white tennis shoes with a green logo on each side. Robbery is a 2nd degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Anyone with information pertaining to this crime is urged to contact the Pinehurst Police Department at 409-886-2221.

Marriage License: Issued By The Office of Brandy Robertson, Orange County Clerk For the Week of February 23, 2015 thru February 27, 2015. Wilbert J. Adams and Mamie A. Hughey, Shawn M. Bussell and Lacey E. Mitchell, Eddie L. Hartford and Alma R. Mancha, Jefre K. Nance and Christina J. Cason, Alfonso Alvarez and Rita A Richo, Christopher R. Tucker and Katrina D. Vickers, Jonathan C. Watkins and Melissa J. Brown, Brandon S. Hardy and Brandy M. Fontenot, Vincent W. Bortz and Leigha M. Cryer, Larry W. Moncrief and Kimberly N. Walton, Lucas D. Scott Sr. and Miosiha L. Mitchell, Allen R. McElroy and Dorothy S. Maxwell, Patrick B. Richard Jr. and Rockki T. Trahan, Kenneth Budwine Jr. and Jacquenae D. Edwards, Brandon W. Schexnider and Lori E. Middleton.

On February 21, 2015, Troop 62 hosted the 3rd annual merit badge fair, which was held at North Orange Baptist Church. Over 250 scouts from local troops and as far away as the Houston area attended the full-day fair to achieve requirements in a wide range of merit badges such as Cooking, Chemistry, Fire Safety, American Heritage, Electricity, Law, Music, and more. Kent Welch volunteered his horse for the scouts taking the Horsemanship merit badge. The merit badge fair was a success thanks to local adults from the community, many not even associated with Boys Scouts organization, who volunteered their time and knowledge to teach a merit badge class. Recognition goes to Woody and Kim Cox (Merit Badge Fair Coordinators), Scott Boaz (Troop Committee Chairman), Karel Green (Troop Advancement Chairperson), Dennis Blowers (Troop 62 Scoutmaster), and the Troop 62 Committee Members for their time and effort to make this event a success for the many scouts who attended. Pictured are: Matthew Cox, Kent Welch, Risa Adams (Horsemanship Merit Badge Counselor), Josh Howard, and Ethan Beard.

The Orange man facing a charge of murder who did not show up for his court date, has been captured in Starks, La. KPLC says on Friday authorities captured Joshua Latham. who is set to stand trial in connection with the death of a Sulphur woman in 2013. Jury selection had been set to start Monday morning for Latham. Detectives from the Orange Police Department had been set to testify in the trial. Latham was indicted for murder and tampering with evidence in connection with the strangulation death of 41-year-old Tami Higginbotham of Vinton. Higginbotham was reported missing on February 8, 2013, after traveling to Orange the day before to sell her cell phone. She never returned home and relatives called police. Orange police found her abandoned car at Blue Bird Fish Camp off Simmons Drive. A week after her disappearance, her body was found in a wooded area north of Mauriceville in Newton County. Police tracked down Latham and arrested him in Tennessee.

A one car rollover Thursday afternoon on FM1442 near Thomas Rd. in Bridge City sent one person to the hospital.  Beverly Perkins, 79, of Orange, was sent by Air Rescue to a Beaumont hospital with head injuries according to BC Police after she lost control of her car.

For the Cobb family, "can" is short for cancer. But it also means the family can accomplish their mission to raise awareness and money for childhood cancer. Father Jonathan, mother Jennifer, son Jonathan David, and daughters Jenna and Jaxi are walking across America for their Jucan Foundation. Thursday morning they were guests at Community Christian School in Orange and told their story. On October 29, 2013, 8-year-old Julia Cobb died from a rare bone cancer. Her family called her "Ju" and added the "can" to her name for the cancer. This past November the family left Disneyland in California to make a trek across the country. They plan to arrive in Disney World in Florida on March 17, which would have been Julia's 10th birthday. Mother Jennifer told the Community students that they hope to make September the month for childhood cancer awareness with the color gold. The Cobbs said only 4 percent of money raised in the U.S. to fight cancer goes for childhood cancer. Julia went to M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston and St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, two of the best medical facilities in the country. Yet the drugs she received were from the 1960s and 1970s because the FDA has a back-up for approving new drugs to treat pediatric cancer. Donations to the foundation can be made through the website

Orangefield Elementary students in Mrs. Wolfford’s Third Grade Reading Classes took part in a nationwide effort to ‘‘Read the Most Coast to Coast’’ on Friday, February 27. They joined hundreds of thousands of students in Renaissance Learning’s celebration that encourages students to read as much as they can. This year students nationwide read an amazing 3,773,803 books! Read the Most Coast to Coast celebrates students as they read books. Each student also completes an Accelerated Reader™ Quiz after each book they read. ‘‘Read the Most Coast to Coast is a fun-filled event that enables our students to join with others across the nation in a shared challenge, all while engaging in valuable reading practice,’’ said Nicole Wolfford, Third Grade Reading Teacher. ‘‘We are proud of our students. They were so excited to contribute to the national book count and to see the totals tracked in real time on Renaissance Learning’s website.’’

The lack of a hospital that admits patients for overnight care will make life different for the Greater Orange community. Dr. Calvin Parker, chief of staff at Baptist Hospital Orange, talked Wednesday about the announcement Tuesday that the only hospital in Orange County will stop admitting patients on June 1. The hospital will keep several out-patient services and a full emergency room open. Parker said people need to use those services to prevent them from being lost. He pointed out that ambulances will take people only to emergency rooms affiliated with a hospital. Without the Baptist Orange emergency room, a person having a heart attack or stroke will be taken to a hospital in Beaumont or Port Arthur. The patient could be stuck in traffic in an ambulance with an EMT rather than being minutes away from a medical doctor with full equipment. In addition, Orange County will have a hard time getting new doctors without a hospital. Doctors want to be affiliated with an admitting hospital. Parker said hospitals recruit doctors with incentive offers like free office rent for a period and an income guarantee. Without a hospital, the community will need to do the recruiting. He said the hospital recruited him 16 years ago and he is now the youngest doctor who has stayed. Orange now could support another two or three general practitioners, especially after the recent death of long-time physician Dr. Howard Williams. Yet, Parker is optimistic for the future. He said county and city leaders are now addressing the problem “behind the scenes” and working for alternative solutions. One way may be getting another company to open a smaller hospital. more

This is the last week to file for municipal elections in May. A familiar name has filed this week in West Orange, former mayor and recently retired County Judge Carl Thibodeaux has filed to be on the ballot as an Alderman. Thibodeaux joins Dr. Frances Lopez and Billie Trahan as candidates for two at-large positions on the city council. Currently Roy McDonald is running unopposed for another term as mayor. Pinehurst has three at-large positions on the ballot in May, but so far only two incumbents have filed, Dan Barclay and Dan Mohon. The other incumbent Matthew Chandler resigned from the council earlier this month. Bridge City has three places up for election. Term limits have prevented Kevin Mott in Place 1 and Robert Simonton in Place 3 from seeking another term. David Rutledge has filed for Place 1. In Place 3 Tammi Fisette and Steve Quibodeaux are seeking a seat on the council. Place 5 incumbent Richard Savoy is being opposed by Terri Gauthier. Applications to be on the ballot must be submitted to the city secretary in each city by the close of business on Friday.

The City of Orange Economic Development Corporation board and the City Council approved the first step of deal with businessman Mark Frey's new company to develop an RV park on Interstate 10. The deal includes an economic development grant of $250,000, with $50,000 to be repaid, plus some tax incentives. Hotel owners and managers, along with some managers of other RV parks objected to spending. Councilwoman Theresa Beauchamp, who also sits on the EDC board, said the park will not "have the kind of construction people that pull their (RVs) along and live in a park two or three months." She said people have RVs that cost $500,000 and the park will attract them. "Those kind of people are usually older and upscale," she said. The economic development money would include $75,000 to demolish the motel, which is now vacant. In addition, $175,000 would be used for infrastructure improvements to water, sewer and drainage. Jack Patel, owner of the Holiday Inn Express, said he objects to the city paying for the demolition of the old motel. He said the bank which has taken ownership of the land should be responsible for the demolition. Patel told the EDC board that he is responsible for the land he owns and that if his grass grows too long, the city sends him a letter telling him to mow. Frey formed a limited liability corporation, Outdoor Hospitality, for the business. He plans to spend at least $1.53 million on the construction. The park will have landscape paver driveways, lush landscaping, gated security fencing, landscape and parking lot lighting. The resort will also have a swimming pool, hot tub, cabana, dog park, shower house, restrooms and laundry facilities. A small retail shop will also be on the premises along with a “rally barn” with full kitchen. Frey said the park will not resemble any of the other RV parks in Orange County because the City of Orange has strict rules for the parks. Those rules, he said, include paved driveways, lighting and water and sewer service to each RV pad. Frey said he has worked with a consultant on the plans for five years.

The West Orange-Cove CISD is dealing with unbudgeted expenses that have to come from reserve funds, or savings. During a school board meeting Monday night, trustees discussed and disagreed on spending more from the reserves to honor a retired coach. Trustee Bryan "Chop" Thomas Muhammad wants to spend money from the reserves to pay for banner signs and an addition to the scoreboard at the high school football stadium to honor Leroy Breedlove "whatever it costs." The board, in a split vote on August 25 agreed to name the football field in honor of Breedlove, a longtime middle school coach and teacher. Monday, Muhammad said "it's almost to the point where it's being disrespectful" to Breedlove by not having the signs installed. He said he wants a banner up for track season, which is starting now. The stadium retains the name of Dan R. Hooks Stadium with Leroy Breedlove Field added. Finance Director Melinda James said she researched how the district paid for the signs for Hooks and the money was raised through donors. Board President Pete Amy said no one has raised money for the Breedlove signage and he suggested that if all the people who spoke to honor Breedlove would donate $50 the signs could be bought. more

The City of Orange is presenting the Pet of the Week. Our Oscar pick is “America” she is a Lab Mixed Breed. Blonde in color and is about 8 weeks old. She is available for adoption and is located at the City of Orange Animal Shelter @ 806 Simmons. The Fee for adoption is $98.00 this Fee covers the cost for her 1st Rabies Shot and when she is old enough for her Spay. Adoption Hours at the Shelter are Monday – Friday from 8:00 am till 10:00 a.m. then again from 3:00 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. You may contact the shelter @ 409-988-7464.

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

A 32-year-old Orange man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for child pornography violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. Jason Ryan Bickham pleaded guilty on Sep. 17, 2014 to possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield. According to information presented in court, law enforcement authorities were alerted by a citizen that Bickham had images containing child pornography on his cellular phone. Bickham provided officers consent to search the phone and a forensic analysis revealed multiple images and videos of child pornography. Bickham was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 4, 2014. This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit This case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Orange Police Department and the Beaumont Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall L. Fluke.

Commissioners appointed Minnie Hightower as the Director of Personnel for Orange County at their meeting Monday. The Commissioners Court interviewed four candidates in the morning for the position before choosing Hightower during the court’s afternoon session. Commissioner David Dubose voted against the appointment preferring to hire from within the county. Dubose said there were two candidates from the county with at least 20 years experience in human resources, one in the sheriff’s office the other actually in personnel, and he wanted one of those to get promoted. Commissioner John Banken joined Dubose in opposing the appointment. Hightower does have 20 years experience in human resources work with Toyota in Mississippi and with the city of Lufkin. She is a native of southeast Texas in Galveston County. Hightower is looking forward to moving back to Texas and be closer to her family instead of 500 miles away where she was working in Mississippi. Her first day as Director of Personnel will be Tuesday, March 3. County buses will be used during the Bassmasters Fishing Tournament in March. The Commissioners Court unanimously approved allowing three county buses to be used the weekend of the tournament. The Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission gave Bobby Fillyaw with the Economic Development Corporation permission to use the buses and to establish a set route for the buses to run during the tournament. Commissioner John Banken was the lone dissenting vote in having the county pay for the fuel to run the buses. The Court approved up to 500 dollars from the contingency fund be used to pay for the propane fuel. The Orange County Economic Development Corporation will pay the drivers to operate the buses at $10 an hour. Commissioners approved the preliminary plat for Magnolia Ranch a proposed subdivision in Precinct 3 located south of FM 105 near the Paulwood Subdivision.

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