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Tuesday morning Little Cypress Junior High broke ground on their state of the art educational facility that will be built as a result of the 2013 bond election. There was a short presentation by contractors and district representatives with the Symphonic Band entertaining as attendees gathered.

Orange police said the pedestrian who was killed on 16th Street Saturday night was 50-year-old Richard Greer Lindley of West Orange. The name was not made public until this afternoon because police had not been able to locate next of kin.
The accident was at 8:37 p.m. by the 16th Street intersection with Sholars Avenue. Officer M.T. Roush reported that a 2007 Dodge Charger driven by a 23-year-old man from Cheyenne, Wyoming, was traveling southbound on 16th Street in the inside lane. Lindley was standing by Superior Tire and Service on the west side of 16th Street and tried to run across the roadway. The Charger struck him as he ran in front of it.
Acadian Ambulance treated Lindley at the scene until a medical helicopter arrived to take him to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, where he died. The driver and two passengers were not injured and no citations were issued.

The City of Orange is working to fill two vacant positions that are in the public eye. One is director of planning and community development and the other is for the coordinator for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Longtime planning director Jimmie Lewis recently retired from the city and took a position with the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission. Taylor Warner with the Convention and Visitors Bureau resigned for another job. City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre said he has received about 15 applicants for the planning and development job and will sort through them. Eventually, he will interview three or four people. The city's website has job descriptions. The planning and development director needs a bachelor's degree in public administration, urban planning or a related field, with at least three years of experience in planning and code enforcement. The person filling the position will also need to be certified in economic development, or get the certification within 18 months of taking the job with the city. Oubre said he has no timeline to fill the position because it is important to get the right fit between the city and the new director. Economic Development Director Jay Trahan, who supervises the Convention and Visitors Bureau, is handling the hiring of the new CVB director, Dr. Oubre said. The city’s website says the qualifications include a high school diploma along with a bachelor’s degree in marketing or equivalent experience.

Commissioners’ Court postponed this afternoon setting an appeals hearing for Vidor land developer Sonny Stevenson.  The county filed a lawsuit against Stevenson and his Parkwood Land Company according to County Judge Carl Thibodeaux after Stevenson requested a permit back in June to develop property just north of Interstate 10.  The permit was denied by County Code Compliance Officer Joel Ardoin because of fill material Stevenson used in a floodway.  Judge Thibodeaux said he thinks Stevenson is breaking FEMA rules, and now the county has to enforce the FEMA rules.  Stevenson is requesting an appeal hearing from either the Commissioners’ Court or an appointed committee.  Judge Thibodeaux says FEMA could penalize Orange County if it did not make sure the area was returned to its original state by cutting all of Orange County’s national flood insurance program.  Commissioner Jody Crump is attending training and missed the meeting.  The property in question is in Crump’s precinct.  Thibodeaux indicated he would like to have the full Commissioners’ Court present and hear what each would want on an important matter like a lawsuit.  The commissioners approved the new contract with the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission for the transportation vehicles used by the county.   Transportation Department Director Donna Minter told the court the contract is similar, but for less money than last years’ contract.  Minter said the contract is for $360,501 which $26,293 less than previously awarded by the commission.  Commissioner John Banken asked why the funds were lowered, and Minter with Judge Thibodeaux responded that the vehicles are part of a federal program and that federal dollars had probably been cut and the commission just passed the reduction on to the county. 

Orangefield Senior Morgan Worthy, escorted by her dad John, was crowned Homecoming Queen Friday night.  The Bobcats capped the night with a 26-20 win against the Newton Eagles to improve to 3-2 on the season.

At approximately 8:45pm Saturday night, there was an auto-pedestrian crash on Highway 90 near Keith Road in Jefferson county that killed a Vidor man. The pedestrian was walking eastbound on Highway 90 near Keith Road when he was struck from behind by a 2009 Nissan SUV. From the evidence, it appears that the pedestrian was walking in the outside lane (slow lane) of Highway 90 when he was struck. This portion of the highway is in rural Jefferson county and is not lit with street lights. The pedestrian was 41 year old Jerry Wilson of Vidor. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Nissan was a 67 year old woman from Beaumont. There are no confirmed injuries to her or her passenger.

Two middle-aged brothers fought each other Friday morning at their father's house during an argument about pain pills. Orange police report that 51-year-old Michael Allen Parrish suffered a broken hand after hitting his 46-year-old brother, Jack Parrish. Officer Patrick McDonald reported police got a 911 call to a house in the 6700 block of Guy Lane at 10:24 a.m. Friday. McDonald said Officer Howard DeVault had handcuffed the two and confiscated a kitchen steak knife, which Michael said he had picked up but didn't use. Both brothers blamed each other on starting the fight and said they wanted to file charges against each other. McDonald said Jack was taken to the Orange County Jail for Class A misdemeanor assault. Michael was dropped off at the local hospital for treatment to his hand. Police said the brothers live with their 72-year-old father.

Orange police at 10:24 a.m. Friday arrested a man who escaped about eight hours earlier from a patrol car while wearing handcuffs. 34-year-old Joshua Melvin Harper was arrested at a house in the 400 block of Cypress Avenue, a block north of the Orange Post Office. Captain Cliff Hargrave said Harper was still wearing the handcuffs but had managed to shift his cuffed hands to his front. The cuffs had been placed on his hands behind his back. Police arrested Harper about 2 a.m. for possession of a stolen vehicle. The vehicle had been broken down in the 1700 block of 16th Street. When officers checked the car, they discovered that it was reported stolen from Freestone County, where Harper was listed as a residence. Hargrave said Harper is from Orange and police had word that he had been staying at the house on Cypress Avenue. Officers were watching the house and asked neighbors for help in looking out for the escapee. He said a neighbor called police after spotting him. The captain said Harper is not considered dangerous.

We are trying to reunite this sweet dog with his owners. He showed up near 105 and 1442. Please call 988-4287 if this is your dog.

Marriage Licenses Issued By The Office of Karen Jo Vance, Orange County Clerk For the Week of September 22, 2014 through September 26, 2014. Jason D. Willis and Brandi L. Authement, Michael C. Harris and Heather A. Flores, Anthony T. Marze and Amber M. Jackson, Luther J. Bennett and Kristin M. Wise, Joseph R. Ardoin and Shanna M. Strong,
Francisco Tays Jr. and Eryn M. Lucas, John Roy and Birdie L. Landry, Kevin M. Staudenmier and Honey A. Cato, Chase M. Kirkland and Thom T. Tran, Joshua G. Taylor and Regan M. Slovak.

Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School students in Terry Morris’ classes had the opportunity to hear from someone who had been in their seats, literally, not too long ago. Dr. Meagan Pollock, 2001 LCM alumni and member of the LCM T-STEM Advisory Board, took the opportunity to share her story with the students. Dr. Pollock is a former National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, with a PhD in engineering education from Purdue University. She worked as an engineer for Texas Instruments, including three co-op rotations, before returning to school to earn her doctorate. She has earned a BS in computer science, with a minor in mathematics, from Texas Woman’s University (graduated cum laude and from the Honors Scholar Program) and an MS in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University as a part of the Program for Semiconductor Product Engineering. Recently, Dr. Pollock was named the Director of Professional Development for the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity. In this role, Dr. Pollock will develop programs and products that help educators, administrators, and counselors improve equity in the classroom, ultimately to increase the participation of women and minorities in high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand careers. Dr. Pollock encouraged all students to consider a career in a STEM field. Along with discussions about what careers the students were considering, Dr. Pollock talked about the school being named a T-STEM Academy and how that is a positive, no matter what field of study is followed. Dr. Pollock talked to them about the importance of STEM careers and the demand for these high-skill, high-wage jobs. She suggested sites to help students explore the offerings of the STEM world. The website has a tab that lists science careers, their descriptions and courses to take in high school to prepare you for those careers. It also has everything from science project ideas to “Ask an Expert” and links for teachers and parents. She also suggested, the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also has student and teacher resources. According to Dr. Terri Estes, LCM Principal, “We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Dr. Pollock’s experience and expertise come to talk to our students. Her position at the National Alliance for Partnership in Equity provides her with a unique perspective on the changes coming in the global economy. Her support on our Advisory Board is invaluable. The fact that she is an LCM graduate and Orange native gives her the added benefit of understanding our school and community. Dr. Pollock is a wonderful role model for our students.”

Teachers, students and residents in Orangefield are celebrating homecoming this week. For a couple of minutes Thursday, the upbeat week came close to becoming a nightmare. Kindergarten teacher Kerri Arrington used the Heimlich maneuver to save fellow teacher Pam Caswell from choking. The incident was during lunch as Orangefield Elementary teachers were treated to a barbecue dinner courtesy of the PTO. Later in the afternoon, Arrington said she was still shaking after the incident, though she stayed calm while using the emergency tactic. Caswell said she felt the piece of brisket stick in her throat. She pointed to the middle of her neck as the spot. At first, she tried to wash it down with a glass of tea. She said she then “did exactly what you’re not supposed to do.” She got up to leave the room, thinking she might go to the bathroom and then stick her fingers down her throat and pull out the meat. She realized she better stay near people. Another idea flashed through her mind. She could throw herself over the back of a chair in a self-applied Heimlich, but she couldn’t find an empty chair. Others in the teachers’ lounge noticed her distress and asked if she could breathe. She couldn’t. Someone jumped up to run to the nurse’s office, which is on the opposite side of Orangefield Elementary. That’s when Arrington took action. “I jumped up and pushed people out of the way and did the Heimlich twice,” she said. The two have been teaching kindergarten together for six years and have rooms next to each other. They were able to laugh a couple of hours later, but admit the choking was scary. Superintendent Dr. Stephen Patterson said the school board will give special recognition to Arrington at the next meeting. Arrington is the daughter of retired Orangefield administrator Charles Donnaud. She said Caswell could have some bruises because of the force of the squeezing. Caswell said she doesn't mind.

On Thursday, September 25, 2014, around 7:10 p.m., Orange County Sheriff’s Narcotics Deputies were patrolling the area of Lakeview Road near the intersection of Neches Road in the Lakeview area of Orange County, Texas, when they observed a brown Chevy truck pulling a trailer that did not have a license plate. There was also a Pontiac car on the trailer. The Deputies stopped the truck for the traffic violation and obtained consent to search the vehicles. Upon searching the car on the trailer, Deputies located approximately 34 grams of methamphetamine in a plastic bag inside the car. Both the driver and passenger in the truck were arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance, a 2nd Degree Felony, and transported to the Orange County Jail to be booked. The driver was identified as 39 year old Michael Durr (left) of Vidor. The passenger was identified as 40 year old Robert Droddy, also of Vidor. The two men were arraigned by Justice of the Peace Precinct #1 Judge David Peck on Friday morning. Each was given a bond of $1,500.

The property at 3438 Martin Street in Pinehurst will not be standing much longer.  Code Enforcement Officer Harry Vine said he spoke to the family of the elderly lady who owns the property about turning it over to Pinehurst.  Vine reported that the family turned the request down.  Back on June 20, Vine gave a 30-day notice of possible condemnation.  The house is riddled with termites, stripped of all the wiring, and has been a haven for vagrants and drug users.  Vine indicated there has been no improvement which means the house will come down.  Vine asked the council for permission to have the structure torn down on this year’s budget.  The Pinehurst City Council approved Vine’s request for the demolition of the structure on Martin which will cost $3200 and is covered in his budget for this fiscal year which ends on September 30.  The demolition is scheduled for the end of this month.

Hotel tax revenues for fiscal year 2013-2014 were awarded by the Orange County Commissioners’ Court.  Economic Development Director Bobby Fillyaw presented the list to the court based on the recommendations of the Hotel Occupancy Tax Committee which met on September 18.  The committee requested applications for Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds in July and August, and after receiving the applications the committee pared the application requests down.  The committee awarded 13 out of 14 requestors money from the county’s HOT funds.  Almost $216,000 were requested by the 14 requesting funds, while the committee awarded just over $75,000.

Demolition has started on the old Pine Grove public housing complex on Park Avenue. The Housing Authority of the City of Orange has hurricane recovery grants to replace old apartments with new housing. The site will get 66 new units for low to moderate income families. The Pine Grove apartments were built in the late 1940s and in the days of segregation housed white-only tenants. The federal government established the Pine Grove Camp at the site during World War II when dozens of trailer houses were set up to house workers who moved to Orange for the defense shipbuilding effort.

Orange County Sheriff's Calls Sept. 17-Sept. 23

Are they here?  "Cast Your Vote" in this weeks poll

The meeting of the Pinehurst city council Tuesday evening was packed, not by citizens interested in the council approving the budget, but with people upset with the cutting down of trees last week at a Pinehurst shopping center.  The trees had been planted through the efforts of Keep Orange County Beautiful (KOCB) about ten years ago.  Citizens were each given 3 minutes to speak.  Jim Cash was first to speak.  Cash said the damage was done, that if TxDOT had not been neutral in the cutting of the trees there may have been a lawsuit from the state.  He asked how Pinehurst could restore credibility for the Keep Orange County Beautiful committee to ever be able to acquire future grants for the beautification of the community, and concluded by asking what Pinehurst was going to do to become environmentally conscious.  David DeRosier a resident of Pinehurst and a former chairman of Keep Orange County Beautiful was next to comment on the tree cutting.  DeRosier reminded the council the trees were planted as an effort to mitigate the damaging environmental loss brought about by Hurricane Rita.  He added KOCB would be pleased to work with both the City of Pinehurst and the owner of the rundown shopping center where the trees were cut down.  Susan Childers spoke against the cutting down of trees, saying that cutting trees for signs to be visible, and especially with no plan to replace the landscape that was destroyed, in a community that has lost so much is deplorable.  Pat Geis also spoke briefly in support of Keep Orange County Beautiful.  The city council is not allowed by state law to respond to citizens’ comments during the meeting, Mayor Pete Runnels did comment to KOGT after the meeting.  Runnels thanked all the people that came to the meeting to express their interest in the situation.  He said it unfortunately was necessary to cut six trees down at the request by the owner of the shopping center because the trees were blocking the view of the businesses in the shopping center.  A new business coming in specifically said a prerequisite for them to come in was the removal of the trees.  Runnels concluded that the city’s first priority is to the citizens of Pinehurst, and the city’s government is dependent on the sales tax and ad valorem taxes derived from businesses to meet its budget requirements each year.     The main order of business Tuesday for the Pinehurst city council was to approve the city’s budget for the next fiscal year. City Administrator Joe Parkhurst said the budget is rather tight and has a few cuts because of reduced revenues for the city, but the services for the citizens were not cut. The budget includes a 3 percent cost of living adjustment for Pinehurst employees and a tax rate of 69.799 cents per 100 dollars value which is unchanged for the last 3 years.

Orange City Council Tuesday appointed several citizens to community boards. Mayor Jimmy Sims, along with councilwomen Theresa Beauchamp and Mary McKenna were reappointed to serve on the City of Orange Economic Development Corporation. Dean Granger was also reappointed to that board. Donald M. Sullivan and Barbara A. Kelly were appointed to the Library Advisory Board for two-year terms. Joanne Pledger was reappointed for another year to the library board. Ben Meadows and Harry Wood were reappointed to the Historic Preservation Commission. Orange residents may apply for positions on different city boards. The applications are presented to the City Council, which makes the appointments to the volunteer boards. In addition, City Council agreed to pay Judge Jerry Pennington, who serves part-time as municipal court judge, $4,410 a month. Part-time Municipal Court prosecutor Cimron Campbell will be paid $2,585 a month. City Manager Shawn Oubre said the two received the same 2 percent pay increase approved for other city employees for the 2015 budget year, which starts October 1.

Supporters of the Lutcher Theater were successful in getting the Orange City Council to reconsider letting the theater get a share of the hotel occupancy tax revenues. However, City Manager Shawn Oubre said if the council gives money to the theater, other groups who were expecting money could get their shares cut. About 20 supporters of the theater, some wearing T-shirts showing they are members of the Theater Guild volunteer group, attended Tuesday evening's council meeting. Earlier this month, the council voted on a first reading to cut the annual allocations to the Southeast Texas Arts Council by $31,000. The director told council members $30,000 of that went to the theater to help in programming, including children's shows. Orangefield ISD Superintendent Stephen Patterson was one of the ones speaking in favor of the theater because about 700 students from the district go to shows. more

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DuPont will be spending $100 million to expand the Sabine River Works plant in Orange. The company made the announcement Tuesday. According to a press release, the expansion will increase the plant’s capacity to produce ethylene copolymers. The plastic material is used in food packaging and demand for the product has increased. The announcement comes a month after the Invista plant received city approval to seek a state investment zone designation for a $250 million investment in its plant. The DuPont plant has about 900 employees. The Invista plant was originally part of DuPont's Sabine River Works but was sold 14 years ago when DuPont eliminated its fiber division. Invista has about 500 employees. Sabine River Works has been in operations since 1946. SRW Manager and Global Manufacturing Director Bobby Laughlin told KOGT, “DuPont’s increase in ethylene copolymers capacity at its Texas manufacturing facilities illustrates our commitment to the business and to the community. Investing in manufacturing here also helps provide long-term stability to the community. The main reasons for expansion at this time are we want to increase production of our specialty polymers which are high value and highly differentiated, and we are supporting our customers’ growth in their markets. This expansion is good for DuPont, and will further drive economic growth for the Orange community.”

The construction of new houses through a federal hurricane recovery grant continues to lead new construction in Orange. During August, the city issued building permits for four new hurricane recovery houses worth a total of $397,500. The houses are only for low-income homeowners whose residences were heavily damaged by hurricanes. A new billboard was the other major construction. M&H Outdoor installed an $80,000 billboard at 4090 Interstate 10. Superfood Mart and Laundry on 37th Street received a permit for a $15,000 new roof. Two residential permits for re-roofing were issued for a total of $20,000. Conrad Shipyard on Market Street got a $21,000 new fence. One permit for a residential fence worth $1,000 was issued. Four air conditioning-heating systems were installed for commercial businesses at a total of $22,400, with the largest $15,000 to Sabine River Ford for the new construction. Five residential permits with a total of $22,850 were issued for residential air conditioning-heating. One swimming pool permit was issued for the 3300 block of Montrose Street with the pool valued at $45,900. August was the first time the city issued permits for temporary banner signs. City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved new regulations for businesses using temporary banners for signs and advertising. The city issued four permits for banner signs. The city is not charging a fee to get a banner sign permit.

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

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