(Orange, Texas)

May 29, 2013

Collective bargaining with Sheriff’s Department Union begins soon

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Commissioners Court in preparation of the collective bargaining with the Sheriff’s Department Union formed a Negotiating Committee.

The members will be Mary Johnson, county auditor, Keith Merritt, sheriff, the personal director, and the five members of the court.

“It is better this way than having it behind closed doors,” County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said during the Tuesday afternoon meeting. “There is no going back and forth with the committee bring us the options and then going back to the table with what we decided.”

The deadline to start negotiations is July 1 but can be started sooner.

The committee will meet for a workshop session to discuss what they would like to see in the negotiations prior to meeting with the Union.

County Commissioner Pct. 3 John Banken asked if it was permissible to meet with the sheriff prior to the start of the negotiations.

“Up to two commissioners can meet with him,” Thibodeaux said.

Texas Open Meetings Act requires a quorum to be called if three or more commissioners meet.

A workshop will be scheduled for the second week of June.

Banken said it was appalling for a change order for the VIOP Telephone System Solution requesting the number of work days to change from 15 days to 60 days for work on the Orange County Convention and Expo Center.

“First they say they can do it in 15 days and now 60 days,” Banken asked.

“If everything was in place to do their work, they would have started already,” Mark Wimberly, maintenance director said.

Wiring needs to be installed before the work order can be started.

Banken asked when the county would be in the building.

“I hope before I give my next monthly report in June,: Wimberly said.

“Before you retire,” Banken asked.

Thibodeaux said the building is slowly being used for county departments.

Sandra Hoke asked the court for permission to plant day lilies and purple combs at the courthouse to help beautify Orange.

Hoke said she was gifted the plants and wanted to share.

“I have friends willing to help me plant them on Thursday if the court approves it today,” Hoke said.

The court approved the gift.

The City Hall in Vidor is also receiving some of the plants.

Addie Allen asked the court to consider an emergency warning horn in light of the recent tornado damage in Oklahoma.

“We do have the chemical plants here and there needs to be some kind of warning,” Allen said. “Some people do not have radios and telephones are not reliable, they can go out.”

Allen also asked the court to let citizens know where the county stands on the Confederate Park under construction at the corner of Interstate 10 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in the city of Orange.