The Orange Leader
In a lengthy meeting Tuesday morning, Orange City Council members heard citizens express concerns on a variety of subjects, denied a rate increase form CenterPoint Energy Resources Corp., voted to buy new police cars, and heard LCM Superintendent Dr. Pauline Hargrove express the concerns she and other state educators have about the high stakes standardized testing in Texas.
Five citizens commented about their concerns of items ranging from the conditions at the Natatorium to the need for limb and other trash pickup in their neighborhoods. To comply with the state’s Open Meeting regulations, council members may only listen and not comment on the issues addressed. They may take these issues under concern and comment or act later. City Manager Shawn Oubre took phone numbers of the citizens in order to check on the issues and contact them later.
Mayor Jimmy Sims issued a proclamation declaring October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The proclamation was presented to members of the Julie Rogers Gift of Life Program.
Dr. Hargrove addressed the council requesting that the council adopt a resolution criticizing the high stakes standardized testing program. She stated that the intense testing program is creating problems in the overall education of students. Currently there are 72 days of testing being done. Educators feel there is undue stress being placed on the students. The tests are not only longer and harder; they are now being given as timed tests, which places stress on the students that the former untimed tests did not. The council unanimously approved the resolution. The same resolution has also been approved by the Orange County Commissioners Court and the Bridge City City Council. The approved resolutions will be sent to the proper state commission in support of educators like Dr. Hargrove and her district.
In an earlier meeting, the council heard requests from area agencies for an allocation from the city’s Hotel-Motel Tax Fund. In the vote to approve the requests, Councilwomen Essie Bellfield and Annette Pernell voted against the requests with the remainder of the council voting to allocate the funds as requested by the agencies.
Police Chief Lane Martin presented a request for the purchase of seven police vehicles from Philpott Ford for the price of $159.439.87. Radios, radar, camera, and computers from the current cars will be installed in the new cars. The purchase will be under a contract through the Houston-Galveston Area Council fleet pricing.
Currently the alarm system in city buildings is monitored through a contract with an alarm company located in another city. If for example, the fire alarm goes off in a building, the signal would be sent remotely to the company’s dispatcher in Dallas, who would then contact the fire department in Orange to check on the possible fire in the building. The cost for this service is approximately $15,000 per year. City fire and police administrators have worked on a system that could be instituted and monitored locally to reduce the cost to about $5,000 per year after the initial cost to install the required equipment. Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Ziller presented the proposal to the council and explained how his department and the police department had been working on the program with other city department heads. All of the required monthly testing can be done locally as well as the monitoring and reporting of alarms. The council voted to approve the proposal and allow the program conversion to begin.
The next city council meeting will be held on October 23, at 5:30 p.m., in council chambers at the Orange Public Library.