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West Orange-Cove CISD Superintendent James Colbert has been named as the lone finalist to become superintendent for the Harris County Department of Education in Houston.
The Harris County school board Tuesday afternoon voted to name him the finalist. State law requires a 21-day period after a lone finalist has been named before the hiring becomes official. “I’m really excited about the opportunity,” he said. “It wasn’t something I was seeking. It was something I was actually recruited for.”
Harris County and Dallas County are the only counties left in the state that till have a countywide superintendent. Colbert described the job as more like a business CEO than a traditional school superintendent. He will be working with the 25 independent school districts in Harris County. “All of them are large,” he said. Harris County has a population of 4.1 million. He said the Harris County Education Department operates a successful Head Start program and also allows vendors to set up so all the school districts can make purchases at reduced prices.
He will stay with WO-C until the end of November. He said the board of trustees should have enough time to appoint an interim superintendent to work until a permanent replacement is named. The board will decide whether or not to hire an outside consulting firm to help search for a new superintendent. The search process could take three or four months, he said.
Colbert started the job with WO-C in January 2011. He immediately had to deal with the state legislature making drastic budget cuts to education. He oversaw the cutback of 50 teachers and administrators, largely through offering a retirement bonus. Then in May of that year, he oversaw a new bond election utilizing federal stimulus money. The bond election was needed to complete several projects that were unfinished after a 2007 bond election that was implemented under a previous administration.
The school district under his leadership also renovated the former Anderson Elementary School into a new alternative education center and an administration building. The previous administration was more than 50 years and was not designed for 21st Century technology. The new administration building opened in January.
When Colbert started, schools in the district were having trouble meeting the state testing standards. He said West Orange-Stark Elementary still needs improvements, but the high school is meeting standards. In addition, the middle school had failed to meet standards for two years. This year, the Texas Education Agency gave that school five of seven distinctions for improvements under the new state testing model.
Colbert said he talked with his wife, Angie, and son, Isom, a freshman at WO-S High, before considering the new job. He described them as “Team Colbert, my greatest strength.”
Colbert grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and was an All-American in track. He received a scholarship to the University of Texas, where he served as captain of the track team. During almost 20 years as an educator, he has worked in various positions, including as a high school principal in Dallas. He came to WO-C after being assistant superintendent for the Hamilton County schools near Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In talking about moving to the Houston area, he described himself as a “city boy” who will be able to be close to a metropolitan area again. “Traffic is not what I look forward to,” he added. “In Orange our version of traffic is getting stuck by a train.”

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers will be moving forward with plans to build a storm protection system for Orange County to help prevent future catastrophic flooding like that which occurred during Hurricane Ike. The Orange County Commissioners’ Court approved an agreement this week to have the Corps of Engineers take soil borings and testing of the samples where the proposed levees will be built. Economic Development Director Bobby Fillyaw has worked with the corps to get the storm protection system built. Fillyaw said the samples will be taken at locations where the Corps of Engineers recommend the levees will go. Fillyaw stated, “It is a proposed route, they have met with the drainage district and all the different entities, people have come in and reviewed this potential location to try to minimize moving it for some reason in the future, but that’s not to say we can’t make adjustments.” The location for the levee system is based on schematics done by Orange County following four public hearings. The commissioners asked Fillyaw if he could estimate when the project would be complete. Fillyaw predicted, “We are probably three to five years ahead of anybody else that’s looking at it mainly because we took the initiative to go right after Hurricane Ike and start the process, I wouldn’t even want to venture a guess.” Fillyaw concluded by saying that a Corp of Engineer’s feasibility report on the project is due by January 2016 and shows the national economic impact the project will have. Orange County’s petrochemical industry gives this area a national impact. He said hopefully the path ahead will be clearer then for the time to complete the project. Next congress would issue a Water Resource Development Act bill to authorize funding for the project. Fillyaw said Orange County would have to go to congress each year for funding for the project.

Deweyville celebrates homecoming Friday against Hemphill. The festivities will start at 2pm with a parade. The Homecoming Court consists of Left to Right: Jessica Heubner, Bri Kagle, Cassidy Havens, Karli Davis, Abi Davis, Shania Sartin.  Trevor Knox, Joe Verde, Brendon Waldrep, Sean Apollonio, John Carpenter.

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

West Orange Stark High School and Middle School 1st 6-Weeks Honor Roll

Early voting for the Nov. 4 general election started Monday. In Orange County, voters in Precinct 2 will also have a wet-dry option to sell alcoholic beverages. People in the Bridge City ISD will have a school bond issue for new buildings and improvements. In the Vidor area, residents in the Orange County Emergency Services District No. will vote on implementing a sales tax. Voting hours and days will differ at the four sites. Early voting at the Mauriceville First Baptist Church is the only site without extended voting hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, the early voting site in Orange, long held at the Orange Public Library, has been changed. That site will now be at the old West Orange-Cove administration building at 505 N. 15th Street (behind Wells-Fargo bank.)
The contested local races include District 36 U.S. House of Representatives: Republican Brian Babin of Woodville and Democrat Michael Cole of Orange. (No incumbent running.)
District 21 State Representative: Republican Dade Phelan of Port Neches and Democrat Gavin Bruney of Nederland. (No incumbent running.)
Orange County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace: Republican David Peck (incumbent) and Democrat Gail Barnett Shaw.
Orange County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace: Republican Joy Dubose-Simonton and Democrat Janice Menard (incumbent).
Early voting sites and times (Registered Orange County voters may go to any site.)
Former West Orange-Cove CISD Administration Building, 505 15th Street in Orange:
Monday Oct. 20 through Friday Oct.24: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday Oct. 25: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday Oct. 26: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Monday Oct. 27 through Friday Oct. 31: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Bridge City Public Works Building
Monday Oct. 20 through Saturday Oct. 25: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday Oct. 27 through Friday Oct. 31: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

First Baptist Church Mauriceville
Monday Oct. 20 through Saturday Oct. 25: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday Oct. 27 through Friday Oct. 31: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Raymond Gould Community Center in Vidor
Monday Oct. 20 through Saturday Oct. 25: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday Oct. 27 through Friday Oct. 31: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For people without valid photo identification to use when voting, the Texas Department of Public Safety on Wednesday will have a mobile site to get the Election Identification Certificate. The mobile unit will be set up at the former West Orange-Cove administration building at 505 N. 15th Street in Orange. This weekend, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Texas law requiring photo identification when voting. DPS will issue free photo voter Election Identification Certificates that are good for six years. People age 70 or older do not have an expiration date on their voter identification certificates. more

28-year-old Michael Gipson was stabbed Monday night at the Sabine Park Apartments, formerly The Oaks, near Pine Avenue and Simmons Drive. Captain Jennifer Burns with the Orange Police Department said the man is in stable condition at St. Elizabeth Hospital. She said police were called at 8:15 p.m. and described the cut as large. The man was taken to the hospital by Acadian Ambulance Service. Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave said Gipson and another man started fighting about a woman. Other people joined the fight. Gipson at some point noticed he was bleeding, however he didn't know who stabbed him. Officer J.H. Kirkpatrick reported that police found a stick with a piece of glass taped to the end plus a .22 caliber pistol at the scene.

On Saturday, October 18, 2014, around 2:20 a.m., an Orange County Sheriff’s Patrol Deputy on patrol in the area of Tulane Road and Avenue B in Orange, stopped a maroon 2007 Chrysler minivan for Defective Equipment. As the Deputy made contact with the driver, who was the sole occupant, he noticed the man was overly nervous. He had the driver exit his vehicle and obtained consent to search the man’s vehicle and person. The Deputy found numerous small plastic baggies used to divide drugs into smaller amounts for distribution. The Deputy also located approximately 5.3 grams of crystal methamphetamine hidden inside the vehicle. The driver, identified as 45 year old Jimmy Oathoudt, a white male from Orange, Texas, was placed under arrest for Possession/Delivery of a Controlled Substance, a 1st Degree Felony. He was transported to the Orange County Jail where he was arraigned later that same morning and his bond was set by Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Judge Janice Menard at $5,000.00. Oathoudt was released once he was able to make bond around 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, October 18, 2014.

This little guy was found at 1615 Lansing St. off of Burnett in West Orange. Has a collar, but no contact info. Call 313.3245.

A man suffered a non-life-threatening stab wound at his house on Decatur Street early Saturday morning. Orange police were called at 3:29 a.m. Saturday to the 500 block of Decatur. Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave said the man told police that he saw someone at his back door. He went to ask the person what they were doing and they replied they were looking for someone. The resident had never heard of the person. An argument broke out. The resident ended up being stabbed in the back. Captain Hargrave said the wound appeared to have been made by a two-inch blade.

A contracted janitorial service has been cleaning the Orange County Courthouse for about three weeks. Mark Wimberley is the Maintenance Director for the county, and after a slow start Wimberley said the crew for Member’s Building Maintenance seems to be getting the job done at cleaning the courthouse buildings. Wimberley reported that he had no complaints phoned to his office this last week, that the new janitorial crew is getting its feet on the ground, and he has just a few things to iron out with them. Commissioners’ Court Monday approved at the recommendation of a committee on hiring in the county to allow Lisa Reeves of the MIS Department to move forward with finding a replacement for an employee leaving her department without waiting the normal mandatory six weeks. The committee made its recommendation Monday and met instead of requiring the Commissioners’ Court to meet in a closed executive session.

The  Deweyville High School Band received a One at Saturday's marching contest for what we're told is the first time in school history. BC, LCM and Vidor also received a One with outstanding performances. Orangefield received a Two.  WOS did not participate.  See more photos from our OC schools in the KOGT Photo Gallery.

Schools across the county continue to have clean cafeterias. During the first part of October, Orange County Health Inspector James Scales went to seven school cafeterias and all received perfect scores. He inspected a total of 11 food businesses, including a pre-opening for the Bridge City Heritage Festival, which he did not score. Only two restaurants did not receive perfect scores. They were Sun Wok Chinese Food on Texas Avenue in Bridge City and Kim Wah Buffet on Strickland Drive in Orange. The perfect schools were Little Cypress Elementary and Junior High, Community Christian School in Orange, Orangefield Junior High, Vidor Elementary, Pine Forest Elementary in Vidor, and Bridge City High. LaQuinta Inn and Suites on South Highway 62 in Orange also received a perfect score.
Kim Wah Buffet received a 78. Scales gave demerits for an employee drink without a lid, no dates on foods in the cooler and freezer, a box of molded lemons in a walk-in cooler. In addition, foods in the cooler and freezer needed to be covered. Boxes of crab were found defrosting on storage shelves. Several flies were found and fly traps were hanging from ceiling. The floors throughout the restaurant needed to be cleaned of old foods, and the shelves inside the walk-in cooler were rusted.
Sun Wok in Bridge City had a score of 68. Scales reported that fried chicken and eggrolls were not at proper temperatures. Mice feces were found on storage shelves. Dates were needed on the foods in the cooler and freezer and the foods needed to be covered. He found foods stored inside a cardboard box without a liner. The hand-washing station was broken. Water was dripping into a bucket from the cooler motor. Air vents, storage shelves, containers and floors needed to be cleaned of old foods. Storage shelves were starting to rust and needed to be repaired or replaces. In addition, broken and unused equipment needed to be removed from the site.

Linn Cardner, Executive Director of the United Way of Orange County was presented with a check in the amount of $8602.83 from proceeds raised from the first Granger Chevrolet 5K Walk/Run. Sabine Federal Credit Union and Samson Energy who were also sponsors in the event. pictured are Al Granger, Keith Brice, David Meaux, Dean Granger (Back) Kristen Williams, Linn Cardner, Maureen McAllister (Front)
The BCHS Cheerleaders hosted 107 Future Cardinal Cheerleaders at their annual Cheer Clinic Saturday. They will be cheering at Friday nights pre-game when the Cardinals take on the Huffman Falcons.

Should they carry "Cast Your Vote" in this weeks poll

Marriage License: Issued by The Office of Karen Jo Vance, Orange County Clerk For the week of October 13, 2014 thru October 17, 2014. Matthew P. Johnson and Nicole E. Wellons, Cody B. Mills and Chelsea N. Gee, Thomas D. Threet and Charla S. Broxson, Joe C. Jones and Lisa N. Barnett, David W. Kelly and Cynthia J. LeFloor, Cody R. Clark and Cassie K. Reeves, Michael T. Humphrey and Haley N. Shriner, Blake A. Holst and Ashley N. Kovatch, Jorge L. Perez Jr. and Abigail Moreno.

ALIEN INVASION!!!  Aliens have taken over Orangefield Elementary! The first grade classes dressed up like aliens to celebrate the ending of their unit on the solar system.

On Thursday, Oct. 16 at 4:30 p.m., a disturbance was reported in the parking lot of the Pinehurst City Hall located at 2497 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Officers L. Roff and K. Norton responded from the police department next door with the assistance of Chief Fred R. Hanauer III. During the course of the investigation Chief Hanauer gained consent to search the vehicle occupied by a white male and white female. The female, identified as Bridget Kaye Freeland, 40 years of age who lists a Deweyville address, was found to be in possession of a controlled substance believed to be crystal methamphetamine. The white male, who initially gave several false names, was eventually identified as Larry Paul Landry, 35 years of age. He is a registered sex offender who lists a Louisiana address. He was arrested for Failure to identify. Freeland was arrested for Possession of a controlled Substance, Penalty Group 1 which is a state jail felony. Both were transported to the Orange County Jail. If convicted, Freeland faces up to 2 years in a state jail and up to a $10,000 fine. A bond of $2500 was assessed for the possession charge. Incidentally, Freeland had initially arrived to the Pinehurst City Hall to pay fines to the Pinehurst Municipal Court on unrelated charges of Fail to Maintain Liability Insurance and Failure to Appear.

DuPont is appointing Janet Schepcoff as the new site manager at Sabine River Works, replacing Bobby Laughlin who has been appointed to global manufacturing director for the company’s Packaging & Industrial Polymers business. Schepcoff, former site manager at the DuPont Circleville, Ohio facility, is returning to Texas where she previously served at several manufacturing plants in numerous leadership roles. “The diversity and talent among our employees at Sabine River Works is inspiring, and it’s my privilege to be a member of this DuPont family that values safety, environmental stewardship, high ethical behavior and respect for people in every task performed and action taken,” said Schepcoff. “Bobby continues to be a valued mentor, as he is for many DuPont leaders, and I plan to continue the excellent work he has done at the site and to be fully engaged with our Orange community leaders.”  more

One month the sales tax receipts for the City of Orange look way up. The next month, the figures appear way down, at least based on the percentages issued monthly by the Texas Comptroller's Office. However, in the greater Orange area of three cities, Orange, Pinehurst and West Orange, sales have been stagnant for a while. The percentage swings come from mistakes in reporting which city gets the appropriate sales tax returns. "We mainly attribute it (the mistakes) to the same zip code," West Orange City Administrator Mike Stelly said. Not only do the three cities have the same zip code, postal addresses in the three cities all are written "Orange, Texas, 77630." more

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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Names
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