The damage to a minivan hit by an airborne sedan was "catastrophic," according to a state trooper trained in crash reconstructions. Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Richard Howard showed how the sedan hit the rear, passenger side of a minivan. The collision ripped off the whole side of the minivan and tore the roof. 16-year-old Alexandria "Lexy" Bertrand was sitting in the front passenger seat and died after the February crash in Vidor. The driver of the sedan, 32-year-old Kelvin Lee Roy of Beaumont is on trial for murder in connection with the crash. The passenger in Roy's car testified on Monday that he intentionally sped up the car in an attempt to kill him and her. Sgt. Howard testified that he didn't find any skid marks in the area to show that the sedan had used brakes.
The accident was about 9:45 p.m. on Friday, February 7 on Main Street, or FM 105, in Vidor. The Honda minivan, driven by the teen's mother, April Bertrand, was stopped at a traffic light on the south side of railroad tracks at the intersection with Old U.S. 90. Roy was driving a Mercury Sable sedan and traveling south on Main Street. When the sedan reached the railroad tracks, the car went airborne and then hit the minivan.
Several Vidor police officers, along with Sgt. Howard, testified Tuesday about the crash and the scene. They also talked about the drugs they found in the car, including a small baggie of crack cocaine rocks and baggies of marijuana. One officer said he smelled alcohol in the car. On Monday, Taralynn Brown, Roy's former girlfriend, said she owned the car. She was riding in the passenger seat and she told the jury he was smoking a "wet" cigarette, or one soaked in the drug PCP. Tuesday afternoon, District Judge Dennis Powell, who is presiding over the trial, gave jurors a break and let defense attorney Malachi Daws of Beaumont question some officers without the jury. Daws asked if the police officers knew of cases where charges were dropped against a person in exchange for their testimony. The murder charge against Roy was brought three days after the crash when Brown told police about how the collision happened.
Testimony is set to being again Wednesday morning in Powell’s 163rd District Court.
Bridge City will have FEMA in town Wednesday. The City will hold a forum at the Community Center according to City Manager Jerry Jones. Everyone is invited to attend. Jones says the engineers hired by Bridge City to help appeal the FEMA flood maps will be at the meeting as will officials from FEMA to discuss the items Bridge City has appealed with FEMA. The forum with FEMA again will be Wednesday afternoon at 1 in the Community Center in Bridge City.
Orangefield School Trustees approved Tuesday night cancelling the district’s November election and certified the three candidates running for the school board as trustees. Donovan Weldon, Jude Graffagnino, and Mark Wernig will be trustees with 4-year terms beginning in November. Weldon is currently on the school board and will start a new term in November. Graffagnino and Wernig will replace Jack Smith and Wanda Woods whose terms expire in November and did not seek re-election. The cancelling of the election will save the district approximately $5,000 according to Orangefield Superintendent Dr. Stephen Patterson. In other business the school trustees did approve a new compensation plan for the superintendent; giving Dr. Patterson the same across the board two percent pay increase they did all Orangefield school employees.
Residents on Whippoorwill in Pinehurst have new sewer lines. What they also have is a bumpy ride home to their residences. City Administrator Joe Parkhurst updated the Pinehurst City Council the situation on the Whippoorwill Sewer Project is that the sewer lines are in and the new man hole covers are installed. The road surface on Whippoorwill is rough, rough, rough according to Parkhurst. Parkhurst confirmed with the council the contractor has not been paid off, and will not be paid until Whippoorwill Street has been repaired and is in better shape. Parkhurst and the city’s engineer have met with the contractor to explain what they expect done to improve the situation. Parkhurst also informed the council Tuesday that the 34th Street Lift Station Project has been completed. The lift station which is the main one serving Pinehurst was damaged during Hurricane Ike. Parkhurst says it is back in full operation now.
The Pinehurst City Council approved seven amendments to the city’s 2013-2014 budget Tuesday night. The net result was transferring about $33,000 from reserves to cover unexpected expenses this year including Pinehurst joining the British Petroleum Disaster Consortium and the Storm Water Runoff Consortium according to City Secretary Debbie Cormier. City Administrator Joe Parkhurst says Pinehurst is in good financial shape, but still has a drop in sales tax revenues. The city is about $14,000 short on the sales tax and a little bit behind on property tax. The city council renewed the contract of City Attorney Tommy Gunn for another year. Gunn starts his 26th year serving in that position. Final details are being worked out for Monday’s Senior Citizen Labor Day Picnic. Alderman Mike Anderson exclaimed the music will be special this year. The entertainment, food, and fun will be Monday from 10 until 2 at the grounds of the old Bancroft School.
Commissioners’ Court made several decisions at Tuesday’s budget workshop. Commissioner John Banken began the workshop by announcing the transferring of a mechanic from Clark Slacum’s Road and Bridge to Donna Minter’s Transportation Department. He said the new budget will just reflect that position is under Minter and the budget for Road and Bridge will have one less mechanic. Both department heads were in agreement with the change according to Banken. Tax Assessor Lynda Gunstream told the commissioners she will relinquish a clerk’s position in her office that became open because of a retirement. The elimination of the position will be a savings of over $37,000 in salary and benefits. The biggest discussion was over the $167,294 in requests for the Orange County Expo Center. Event Coordinator Sabrina Gray responded to whether some of the items could wait until a later date by saying the request for 100 additional chairs could wait, but the audio/visual equipment and just about everything else she requested she had an immediate need for. The requests were approved by a close vote of 3 to 2, Commissioners Jody Crump and Owen Burton voting against the requests. Commissioners heard a request from Dr. Roy Sanford with the AgriLife Extension Service for a color copier. Dr. Sanford says the color copier would enhance the presentations his office makes to agricultural groups, youth programs, and other organizations. The Commissioners’ Court agreed there was a definite need for the color copier, but at a cost of over $22,000 the court was not sure it would fit into this year’s budget. County Judge Carl Thibodeaux thinks the copier could be shared by the several county offices in the Expo Center facility. AgriLife shares the Expo Center with Emergency Management, Road and Bridge, and the Expo Center Event Coordinator Gray. All of which Thibodeaux guessed would have need for a color copier. The next budget workshop is the Tuesday after Labor Day, and the copier will be reconsidered at that time according to Judge Thibodeaux.
Orange County Economic Development Director Bobby Fillyaw had some good news for Commissioners’ Court Monday that an agreement has been reached with Southeast Texas Industries Group to build a new facility in West Orange. Fillyaw introduced the project manager Brent Strange to the court, and Strange explained the STI Group is planning to build a new shop on Foreman Road between Dupont Drive and FM 105. The facility will be a 350-foot by 100-foot shop on a 36-acre parcel of land. The shop will have six overhead cranes to assemble oil rig equipment and ship it out. Strange says the new facility will create 75 to 100 maintenance jobs, and that number could grow with increase work load which is steady right now according to Strange. The initial investment of the STI Group is $2.7 million. STI is shooting for the shop to begin operations by December, but definitely plan to have operations underway by January 2015.
St. Mary Catholic School students had the honor of learning lessons from Dr. Hoke at the science superstars workshops. These students will be presenting with Dr. Hoke throughout the school year which will include why the experiments work and how the experiments function. Student enjoyed gaining the knowledge taught by Dr. Hoke and are anxious to share their knowledge with others. Pictured – Back row – Thomas Nguyen; O’Shan Mitchell, Nicholas Wilson – Front row – Megan Do; Krystal Lester; Shelby Smith
The sound of breaking glass on a pickup truck woke up a resident in the Greenway Park area early Saturday morning. But the man was too late to prevent his neighbor's truck being burglarized. Orange police went to the 1800 block of Greenbrier at 3:41 a.m. Saturday. The neighbor said a loud "bang" woke him up. He looked out a window and saw a white man wearing a light-colored shirt and light-colored pants running away. A wallet was missing from the pickup truck.
Some school children didn't have their uniforms and new school supplies for the first day of classes. A woman on Sunday afternoon reported a burglary in which school uniforms, a backpack and school supplies were missing. Orange police were called to the 500 block of Burton Avenue at 1:16 p.m. Sunday. The woman said she had been gone from the residence about an hour and the doors had been locked.
The 8-26-14 agendas for the Orange Economic Development Corporation meeting and the Orange City Council meeting are now online at www.orangetexas.net.
A ghost clings to the banks of the Sabine River and for now, the Orange City Council is keeping that last bit of history. Water Street has disappeared into fenced areas of industry, but more than a century ago, it was one of the prestigious addresses in Orange. The Victorian-style mansion of Henry Jacob and Frances Ann Lutcher was at 806 Water Street near the current Port of Orange building. The Bancroft home was at 304 Water Street by Polk Avenue, near where the county now has a maintenance building. The Presbyterian Church, the chapter house for the American Red Cross and the Masonic Lodge were on Water Street. Earlier this month, the City of Orange was prepared to give part of Jackson Avenue and the last part of Water Street to Orange Shipbuilding and Higman Marine, two industries along the river that now have taken over what was once the roadway of Water Street. City staff said the companies use the roadway area and the right-of-way now, anyway. The city gave Orange Shipbuilding some of the Water Street land near Georgia Street four years ago. During the past two decades, the city has also given the busy shipyard part of Market Street for expansion. However, this time, City Councilman Tommy Ferguson said he hates to give away any waterfront property. The rest of the council agreed. Council members instructed the city staff to work out an agreement for the two companies to lease the small bit of land, but not give it away. more
The leadership of the American Red Cross Beaumont and Orange County Chapters are pleased to announce that Chester R. Jourdan, Jr. has been selected as the new Executive Director. Jourdan will assume his new responsibilities on Monday, August 18, 2014. As Executive Director, he will serve in a leadership role to improve the resiliency of the communities served by the Red Cross. His leadership will help community members to respond to and recover from natural and man-made disasters as well as promoting the growth, quality and constituency of Red Cross programs and services throughout the Golden Triangle and Deep East Texas Counties. “Chester was selected for this position based on his fundraising expertise, community involvement and knowledge working with the private sector, not for profit organizations and local governments throughout Southeast Texas. We are excited to have someone with his experience to help further the mission of the American Red Cross in our communities,” said Steve Vetrano, Chief Executive Officer, Texas Gulf Coast Region of the American Red Cross. Most recently, Chester was Executive Director of the South East Texas Nonprofit Development Center in Beaumont. Prior to returning to Texas, he served as the Executive Director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission in Columbus, Ohio. Chester also served as Executive Director of the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission in Beaumont. In that role he addressed regional initiatives by promoting collaboration and cooperation with government and private sector interests. He was also engaged in the relief efforts for 27,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees and helped lead efforts in the evacuation, relief, recovery and rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita. After he and his family relocated to Columbus, Ohio Chester returned to Southeast Texas to volunteer for two weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.
A 40-year-old man arrested last year in an Orange County drug bust faces a mandatory sentence of life in federal prison after a Beaumont jury convicted him of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of meth and being a felon in possession of firearms. Stephen Shane Hall and five others were arrested in August 2013 at a house in the 300 block of Spooner Road in the Bridge City area. The Orange County Sheriff's Office reported at the time that they found about four ounces of meth, doses of LSD and drug paraphernalia. They also found a semi-automatic pistol, a Derringer-style pistol, a semi-automatic rifle and numerous combat-style knives. Hall's trial was held before U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. U.S. Attorney John M. Bales of the Eastern District of Texas, whose office prosecuted the case, said courtroom testimony showed the law enforcement officers investigated Hall and the others from February 2013 to August 2013. A federal grand jury in November indicted Stephen Shane Hall, Misty Hall, Kevin Trent Portie and Scott Robicheaux with federal drug trafficking violations. Misty Hall, Portie and Robicheaux have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Stephen Shane Hall went to trial. Prosecutors are Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Englade and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell James. The case was investigated by the Orange County Sheriff's Office; the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the FBI and the Beaumont Police Department.
TxDOT Lane Closures- Beaumont: The eastbound exit ramp 856(US90) from IH10 will be closed Mon.-Wed. Aug.25-27 and Tues.-Thurs. Sept.2-4, 10am-8pm, to unload and hang beams for the eastbound lanes of the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge (Neches River). Traffic wishing to exit at ramp 856(US90) can exit at Asher Turnaround (exit 858); The outside lane and on-ramp of US 69 northbound between Highland Avenue and Spur 93 will be closed 7pm-5am Monday night, August 25th, for crews to remove concrete traffic barrier and to stripe the roadway; The southbound, inside of US69 at the Delaware overpass will be closed Sun.-Thurs., Aug. 24-28, 7pm-5am.
Taylor Warner and Jay Trahan (standing with TACVB Exec Dir. David Byerly) with the Orange Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) recently attend the 2014 TACVB Annual Conference held in Houston-Clear Lake. This year’s them was “Charting New Horizons,” and there were 220 attendees from across the state of Texas. CVBs promote destinations through advertising and special events. Professional development sessions included the following: Fundamentals of Destination Marketing, Selling Your Destination, The Role of Social Media for Sales, and Enhancing Brand Exposure, to name a few. The keynote speaker was Mr. Gene Kranz who led the NASA team that brought back the astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission. His famous command, “Failure Is Not An Option,” is now forever a part of American history. “I found the conference to be extremely educational. Through development sessions and networking, we were able to learn what techniques other CVB’s in Texas are using to promote their City. Now my goal is to work towards incorporating some of those methods into our CVB here in Orange.” The 2015 TACB annual conference will be held at The Woodlands.
Marriage Licenses Issued By The Office of Karen Jo Vance, Orange County Clerk For the Week of August 18, 2014 through August 22, 2014, Richard G. Gordon and Christina M. Carver, Justin L. Peddy and Motchen R. Hayes, Danny T. Jeffcoat and Amanda J. Walker, Dane F. Quarles and Jamie N. Gauthier.
Look Left and "Cast Your Vote"
The Rotary Club of Orange is proud to host and introduce Salome’ Poirault from La Rochelle, France as their 2014 Rotary Youth Exchange Student. Salome’ will begin her exchange living with Bryan and Jennifer Burtsfield and their family. Jennifer is the current President of the Rotary Club of Orange. She will also have the opportunity to live with at least one and possibly two more families this year before completing her exchange. She will also be counseled throughout the year by Rotary Counselor/Coordinator, Sue Denosowicz. Salome’ will attend Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School and will be classified as a Senior. The Rotary Club welcomes her with open arms and knows that the community of Orange and the people who live here will prove to be one of the best experiences she’s had. “I am thrilled to live with my new family in Orange, Texas” said Salome’. “I am looking forward to learning about the culture of the United States. This has been a lifelong dream for me.” The Rotary Youth Exchange Program allows a foreign student to live with host families and attend school locally for one year. Participating in this program as a student or a host family helps everyone to understand and see a different way of life, learn about a different country and culture. In particular, it allows people to see people in other parts of the world, as not better, not worse – just different – and almost without knowing it, people begin to develop a better understanding and respect for others around the world. For many participants, the “exchange adventure” has been a fascinating growing experience.
On Thursday, August 21, 2014, around 10:20 p.m., Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, along with assistance from the Vidor Police Department, conducted a search warrant at a residence in the 4500 block of Caribou Road, Orange, Orange County, Texas. During the search, Deputies located approximately 36 grams of methamphetamine. The resident, identified as 33 year old white female Larissa Jester of Orange, along with 56 year old white male Roger Hanks of Vinton, Louisiana, were arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance, a 2nd Degree Felony. Both Jester and Hanks were taken to the Orange County Jail. On Friday morning, August 22, 2014, Justice of the Peace Precinct #1, Judge David Peck, arraigned both Jester and Hanks and set each of their bond at $10,000. Jester and Hanks remain in custody at the Orange County Jail.
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.
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).
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