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A 25-year-old man will serve 35 years in prison for sexual abuse of a child along with a 20-year sentence for burglary. Willis Bennett Sibley Jr. of Orange pleaded guilty to the two charges Friday afternoon before 128th District Judge Courtney Arkeen. Assistant District Attorney Phillip Smith said the two sentences will be served at the same time. State law requires Sibley to serve at least half the 35-year sentence, or 17-and-a-half years in prison for the sexual assault, before being considered for parole. Sibley's pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl. The burglary charge was in connection with a night-time break-in of a Little Cypress house and then a police chase through yards in the Woodmont subdivision. The mother of the child victim told KOGT that Sibley was her fiancé and was living with her and her family at the time of the assaults. She noticed the signs that her daughter was being abused and sought charges against him. "Put your children over any man," she said. The mother said she had been a victim of sexual assault when she was a child and that her mother had not stood by her. “The panic and the anxiety, I wasn’t going to let it happen to her,” she said about her daughter. The mother advised other parents to notice signs of possible sexual abuse like the child going to bed fully clothed and wearing a coat and then pulling the blanket up. Another sign is that the child becomes happy when a person leaves the house and is gone. The mother said she and her daughter have received counseling from the Garth House. Sibley was indicted in June 2013 for continuous sexual assault of a child in connection with incidents that had happened from December 2012 through March 2013. The mother of the victim said that after she kicked Sibley out of her house and went to police, he moved in with another woman with children.
The victim and her family members were prepared to testify against Sibley in a trial. Prosecutor Smith said the continuous sexual assault of a minor case was set to go to trial before a jury on Monday, but Sibley pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of sexual assault of a child.
The burglary plea came because of Sibley’s arrest this past March when he was out of jail on bond for the sexual assault indictment. Orange police reported he broke a window at a house on Rue de Fleurs in the middle of the night. The homeowner awoke and called police. Sibley then led police officers on a chase through yards in the Woodmont subdivision. Police were able to spot him in the dark because his tennis shoes had reflective features that glowed when the flashlights shone at them. Officers found him hiding in a pile of grass behind a house in the 4300 block of White Cedar Drive. Two officers shocked him with Taser guns because he would not move one of his hands out of the grass pile. During a daylight search, officers found a discarded .22 caliber pistol. Smith said Sibley had previous felony convictions.

Two businesses on 16th Street reported burglaries in recent days. A burglar alarm sounded at 2:12 a.m. at the Dollar General, 3024 16th Street. Orange police found a broken window on the east side of the building but nothing was taken. Then Sunday at 12:29 p.m. the owner of Marze Insurance at 2408 16th Street reported a break-in with computer equipment stolen. Police said a front window was broken but entry to the office was made through breaking into the north side door. Also reported during the weekend was a break-in at a house in the 1300 block of First Street at 2:53 a.m. Saturday A burglar alarm notified police. On Saturday at 10:35 p.m. a resident in the 2000 block of Coronado Place reported that someone forced entrance into the house’s attached garage. About $4,100 worth of audio and electronics were stolen.

An Orange man was taken to the Carthage hospital Friday afternoon after accidentally shooting himself while at the Gateway Travel Plaza, 1086 Highway 59 South. According to the, Chief Jim Vanover said the man, Jason Paul Bryant, 37, a concealed handgun licensee, entered the convenience store, pulled his shorts up, and accidentally shot himself in the leg. “He walked maybe six feet in the door when he pulled his shorts up, something caught the trigger and the gun discharged into his leg,” Vanover said. “People immediately rushed over to help.” By the time Officer Shelbye Alemeida arrived at the scene a women in the store had secured a tourniquet made of a belt around the shot leg and was applying pressure to the wound. Chief Vanover said the accident could have most likely been prevented if proper gun safety had been observed. “If you’re going to carry a gun it needs to be in a safe holster,” Vanover said. “It’s dangerous to stick a gun in your pants. No one was hurt besides him.” No charges were filed against Bryant for the negligent discharge, and no word on his condition as of Monday morning.

Commissioners’ Court approved Monday renewing the contract for another four years with Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Simpson to collect delinquent property taxes for the county. The request was made by Tax Assessor Collector Lynda Gunstream and a motion was made by Commissioner Jody Crump who said they do a wonderful service for the county. The commissioners also approved renewing the $10 Road and Bridge fee the county collects when citizens register their vehicles with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Money from the fee is used for road repairs in the county. Commissioners decided not to begin collecting the Child Safety fee which is used to pay for crossing guards at traffic intersections. In other business County Judge Carl Thibodeaux asked that further issuing of P-Cards to county departments be delayed until after the new budget is completed. Thibodeaux said the departments that have the P-Cards can still use them for emergency purchases, but no new cards be issued until after October 1. Requests for purchases by departments between now and the end of September will be submitted to the Purchasing Department, and Connie Cassidy and her staff will work to get the needed items. The court held two closed sessions, one on the Montano lawsuit against the county and the other about a business prospect locating in Orange County. No action was taken in open session following either closed session.

Part of county business is to transfer old equipment as surplus. Monday saw a more difficult transfer of a valuable piece of county property to surplus. K-9 Shadow which has been invaluable in finding contraband drugs in its over 9 years of service with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office will officially retire July 31. Shadow has reached an age when most trained dogs like it cannot continue to perform enforcement functions. Assistant County Attorney Doug Manning says the county plans to give the dog to its longtime handler Corporal Russell Hall, adding the transfer is the same thing as having a third party house a county asset and there will be no cost to the county as Hall will maintain possession of Shadow throughout the remainder of its life. Sheriff Keith Merritt says Hall is currently in the Hill Country working with a new K-9 that the sheriff hopes will be able to take the place of Shadow.

The causes of an apartment fire and a single-family house are still under investigation, but Orange Deputy Fire Chief Lee Anne Brown said the fires are not considered suspicious. Both fires were early Sunday morning. No injuries were reported. The fire at Oakwood Village Apartments on 37th Street affected 12 units and displaced several residents. Brown said the complex was moving the displaced tenants into other apartments except for an elderly woman who needs to live on the ground floor. The local chapter of the American Red Cross has been helping the victims. The fire was reported at 2:23 a.m. Sunday and by the time firefights arrived smoke and flames were coming out of the building. The residents had all gotten out safely. The Orange Fire Department responded and got assistance from the West Orange Volunteer Fire Department and the Emergency Services District No. 4 from McLewis and Mauriceville. It took the firefighters almost an hour to get the apartments fire under control. While firefighters were at the apartments, another call came about the house fire at 1212 Sholars. The family got out safely during the fire, which reported about 4:56 a.m. Brown said flames and heavy smoke were coming out of the room and rear of the building. Emergency Services District No. 3 from Little Cypress was at that fire for the Orange Fire Department.
Orange County is recovering from a massive rainfall this morning that came as a line of thunderstorms stalled over Southeast Texas. The Sabine River gauge on Pier Road near downtown Orange had 6.25 inches of rain since about 5 this morning and 7.25 inches since Thursday evening. A number of streets across the region flooded. Area Rain Totals The Orange County Transportation Service canceled appointments because the flooding and Meals on Wheels were not delivered. Lamar University in Beaumont closed for the day because MLK Drive was flooded. Gilbeaux Towing Company on Highway 62 in Orange was busy with calls to pull stalled cars out of water. Most of the calls came from feeder roads on the interstate. A resident on Allie Payne Road in Little Cypress blocked the road with his pickup truck near Highway 87 to try to keep vehicle traffic from sending wake waves into his house. The road and ditches had flooded with water getting into some of the houses.

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A woman caught inside a house in November stealing from a man who had recently died will serve 13 years in prison for the burglary. State District Judge Buddie Hahn sentenced 25-year-old Moriah Wallace to the prison term along with a $1,000 fine. Orange police reported on November 11 that the daughter of the deceased went to his house about 7:30 a.m. and found a woman inside hiding behind a bar in the den area. Police arrested Wallace and reported she had a number of items, including a bag full of half-dollars and other coins worth than $1,000. She told police that she drank a beer while there. Assistant District Attorney Tom Kelley, who prosecuted the case, said Wallace had been put on probation for a previous felony case and that was revoked. She then served time in a state jail and was released in August 2013, three months before the break-in, Kelley said. The break-in was on Veteran's Day, two days after the funeral for the homeowner. Kelley said the man was a veteran and had a veteran's ceremony at his burial.

Marriage License: Issued By The office of Karen Jo Vance, Orange County Clerk For the Week of July 14, 2014 thru July 18, 2014. Brandon J. Lucas and Kaylin R. Little, Kristopher K. Kilbourn and Christina M. Krause, George E. Falgout and Pamela S. Dyson, Paeton T. Landry and Jasmin M. Duck, Christopher D. Gantt and Savanah L. Stanley, Bradley G. Oliver and Kathy J. Fitzgerald, Roger D. Gore and Kelly L. May, Kory D. Temple and Kimberly R. Daley, Max C. Aaron and Victoria E. Romano, Johnathon L. Shoemaker and Michaela C. Tremont, Chad M. Richard and Krista A. Foster, Mark G. Svencer and Nicolle M. Barnett, Ted J. Slaughter and Alexandra M Humphrey, Wesley A. Smith and Aubrey D. Thibodaux, Derick S. Duhon and Shelby C.A. Davison, Phillip R. Vaughn and Amy D. Martin.

Orange has hooked a big one, again. The Bassmaster Elites tournament will return for a week of events and a professional competitive fishing tournament beginning March 15.  The announcement was made at the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon. A Bassmaster Elites tournament was held in Orange in March 2013 and drew 34,000 people to the four-day tournament and festival called the Sabine River Challenge. It was a record for Bassmaster Elites at the time. John Gothia, who has helped recruit the group both times, said Orange holds the one-day attendance record for Bassmaster Elites with 17,000 people attending the last day.  more

Fire Management Officer for the Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Jamie Farmer, reported that a lightning started wildfire, referred to as the Cinnamon Teal Fire, has burned approximately 2,000 acres of marsh in Sabine National Wildlife Refuge’s Management Unit 4. Winds shifted throughout the day from predominantly east southeast to westerly as a weather system moved inshore from the Gulf of Mexico. The westerly winds have caused smoke to reduce visibility along areas of Highway 27 and 82. Smoke warning signs are being placed at appropriate sites along the roadways by the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office. The fire has continued to burn as thunderstorms move over the area from the Gulf. Flame lengths of 10-20 feet were observed prior to the rain which has limited visibility. The fire is being monitored by Federal fire management staff and resources from Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. There are no assets or facilities at risk at this time.

The Orange County Hotel/Motel Tax committee has released applications for non-profit entities within Orange County to apply for a portion of the County’s Hotel/Motel Tax funds.  Any 501(C) organization in Orange County that attracts visitors to Orange County Texas can make application to the committee.  There are a number of restrictions by state law as to how the funds can be utilized.  First, the funds must be used in a manner that encourages overnight visitors to Orange County.  Secondly, expenditures must fall within one of the following categories. more

Residents of Orange and Orange County who were here in 2005 remember the devastating effects of Hurricane Rita on the trees in this area. Many an old tree fell damaging the property they stood on. In many cases the trees toppled on homes further devastating families’ property. Sandra Cash of Orange remembers Rita. Cash called in tree expert Bob Thibodeaux to help spread the word on how to keep the trees up this hurricane season. His talk in downtown Orange was attended by maintenance supervisors from several local municipalities including Orange and Pinehurst. Cash loves trees especially live oaks and does not want to see another calamity like Rita which took out 30 percent of the tree canopy in Orange. She is part of keep Orange County beautiful, and her main focus is trees keep Orange green. Thibodeaux of Bob’s Tree Preservation out of Church Point, Louisiana, is an admitted tree hugger. He says if you take care of your trees, they will take care of you by their beauty and providing needed oxygen in the air. Thibodeaux has some simple tips to keep trees healthy and up right this summer. Make sure you have good soil quality because the soil determines whether a tree is going to fall or not. Thibodeaux also emphasizes proper pruning techniques, and that means not over pruning. More often than not the less pruned the better according to Thibodeaux. He pointed out coastal trees like a healthy live oak in its natural setting can slow down winds by as much as 70 percent. Thibodeaux recommends bio-degradable fertilizer and avoid using any synthetic herbicide or fertilizer. Recycle dead material back into the soil to refurbish minerals and nutrients. He recommends cities like Orange join Tree City USA to increase awareness of trees and the benefit of their preservation. The cost to join Tree City USA is $2 per capita in the city seeking membership.

Tanner is missing off FM 1442 between BC and Orangefield since Sunday evening. Is in need of medication for his eyes. Contact # is 409-720-7292.

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A lawsuit filed against the Orange County Jail is asking for an injunction prohibiting Orange County from the practice of providing medical care for jail inmates by licensed vocational nurses without proper supervision. The suit was filed on behalf of Robert Montano’s family. Montano was arrested for public intoxication in October 2011 and died 5 days later while in the Orange County Jail. The spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office at the time said Montano died from medical issues. The autopsy report stated cause of death was renal failure due to bath salts toxicity. The lawsuit claims Montano was never seen by a medical doctor or taken to the hospital. The suit accuses the jail staff of covering up the observation cell Montano was put in with paper to avoid seeing Montano crawling around on his hands and knees for over 100 hours until his death. The lawsuit being heard in the Federal District Court in Beaumont is asking for the injunction against the nursing practices of the jail as well as seeking damages for the family.

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The restoration of the historic Cow Bayou swing bridge has turned wet this summer. Part of the construction includes installing a "fender system" in the bayou that protects the bridge from boats, said Sarah Dupre with the Texas Department of Transportation. The restoration work for the $9.5 million project is progressing on schedule, she said. Work started earlier this year to restore the 1941 swing bridge where it will open smoothly for boat traffic, if needed. In addition, it will carry 21st Century traffic. Dupre said the “fender system” looks like guard rails but they are in the water. In addition, the contractor is pouring concrete for the decks of the bridge. The decks are the roadway that vehicles will use. The fender and decking work will be continuing for the next few weeks.  The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2015.

A 35-year-old Bridge City woman was killed early this morning while walking on East Roundbunch Road near Douglas Street. Precinct 2 Judge Derry Dunn identified the woman as Natalie Chaisson. He said the Bridge City Police Department received a call about 4:45 a.m. about a woman who appeared to be intoxicated walking on East Roundbunch Road. While the dispatcher was getting the information another call came in that a woman had been hit by a truck. Dunn said the woman was hit by a man driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck who was on his way to work. The judge said the accident was not far from the man's house and he was traveling about 25 to 30 miles per hour.

Orange police arrested a man early Wednesday morning for destroying evidence after he poured out PCP from a small bottle. Bradley J. Gilliam also faces a charge of evading police because he wouldn't stop riding his bicycle when a patrol officer tried to stop him for a traffic check. Officer Patrick McDonald reported that he saw a man riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the road about 1:35 a.m. in the 700 block of 13th Street. The officer said the bike didn't have a white light on the front. McDonald turned on his patrol car's emergency lights, but the bicyclist wouldn't stop. At the corner of 13th Street and Orange Avenue, the bicyclist almost stopped, so Patrick stopped his patrol car. When he got out, the bicyclist sped away. The officer said the man refused to stop. McDonald ran after the bike and tackled the driver. Then they struggled over a small bottle. The man managed to pour out the liquid in the bottle. McDonald said it smelled like PCP, a hallucinogen. Police also investigated a burglary at house in the 100 block of Massachusetts with a window air conditioner stolen. Tuesday morning, a City of Orange employee reported that he had parked a city truck in the 700 block of West John Avenue about 8 a.m. When the employee returned to the truck after checking water meters, he discovered a window had been broken. Nothing was missing from the truck.

Ambrose Claybar of Orange came home from the GTO Association of America International Meet in Pittsburgh with the "Best of Show" Award for his 1964 GTO.  The win was sweet for Claybar, not only beating 74 other cars, but winning on the 50th Anniversary of the Pontiac muscle car which was produced from 1964-74.  It's the second time Claybar has come home with the Best Of Show Award.  He did it back in 2007 with a blue 1965 GTO.  Why GTO?  Claybar said, "My brother let me drive his when I was in high school and I've loved them ever since."

The West Orange-Cove school board Monday voted to appoint Nathaniel Colbert to serve in the board position that was left vacant by the death of Mary Kirksey, who passed away on June 28. The new board member is not related to Superintendent James Colbert. The new board member will serve until the next school board election in May 2015. He will take the oath of office on Monday at a board meeting.

The restaurants and food businesses health scores slipped in July. Orange County Health Inspector James Scales went to 19 restaurants and businesses during the first part of the month and only one had a perfect score of 100. Flies and gnats were found at several establishments. The perfect one was the Dollar General store on Highway 12 in Mauriceville. The Garden District on North Highway 87 in Little Cypress came close. The restaurant had three points taken off because it did not have a certified food manager on staff. The lowest score went to General Wok No. 6 on 16th Street in Orange. The restaurant had 78 with Scales finding dead roaches and feces on the top of the cooler, along with other problems. Even though the Cypress Plaza at 16th Street and Park Avenue in Orange had a score of 89, Scales reported that the store is in poor condition and had lots of trash and old equipment that needed to be discarded. He also pulled expired foods dating back to 2010 to 2012. The inspector noted that the score does not reflect the conditions of the store and that it needs to be cleaned daily. During the first two weeks of July, 11 businesses had scores in the 90s and four had scores in the 80s. Scales also conducted pre-opening inspections on two business, Wicked Wich Sandwiches on Carla Street in Vidor, and The Hut barbecue business (formerly the Crawfish Hut) at 1804 16th Street in Orange. Other health scores

Shawn Milton Crooks, 24, of Bridge City was arrested by Bridge City Police Monday on two felony warrants for stealing a vehicle and evading arrest.  He's also a suspect in several other crimes according to authorities.  The arrest didn't come easy.  Crooks eluded police last week after stealing a vehicle in the West Orange area.  Monday BCPD was assisted by WOPD as well as tracking dogs from Port Arthur when they believed they had Crooks cornered near his home on Granger Drive.  The area was searched for most of the day with little success.  Near the end of the day after the dogs were called off, Bridge City officers Richard Teague and Tim Reeves and Jessica Johnnie from OC Sheriffs Dept. were in the Granger Drive area when they saw Crooks and subsequently arrested him without incident.  Crooks was taken to the Orange County Jail.

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