(Orange, Texas)

December 31, 2012

Year in Review

Staff reports
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Long run for Mustangs

West Orange-Stark High School’s Mustangs made an entire community proud this year by steam rolling all the way to the regional finals.

The Mustangs ended their year against the eventual state champions and posted a 13-1 record.

WO-S was led by a defense which many opponents found it very difficult to move on as the Mustangs allowed only 145.6 yards per game.

Two Mustangs on the offensive side of the ball set school marks as Jimmy Salter became the leading WO-S quarterback and J’Marcus Rhodes is now the leading all-time receiver in school history.

It was quite the year for Cornel  Thompson and the Mustangs who went undefeated in winning yet another District 21-3A championship.

Tuffy’s restaurant closes its doors

A well-known eatery and landmark of Orange County closed its doors to the public.

Tuffy’s Eatery, a restaurant located near the intersection of Texas 12 and State Highway 62 in Mauriceville, has closed its doors to the public in 2012 after nearly 27 years in business.

“It’s a tough climate out there right now, and people are still having a tough time with the economy,” Johns said as reported in The Orange Leader. “Tuffy’s is a landmark in the community I didn’t want to lose, but it was a really tough decision and it had to be made.”

According to the official website, the restaurant was opened in 1985 by James and Janet Linscomb and was named after Janet’s nephew, Donald “Tuffy” Bishop, who worked as the restaurant’s general manager and could often be found in the kitchen or visiting his beloved patrons.

Teacher/student relationships lead to indictments

There were several more cases of teachers and students having a relationship in area schools in 2012.

Two were indicted for it in December. One came at Little Cypress-Mauriceville HIgh School and the other at Community Christian High School.

The rise in cases has been alarming throughout Southeast Texas as students and teachers find new ways to communicate with each other outside the classroom.

Law enforcement agents have urged parents to talk with their students and warn them of the penalties that can be placed on a teacher.

Text messaging and social media sites like Facebook have also been a prime spot for the relationships to begin at.

BC baseball/LC-M softball take fans for a ride in 2012

Oh the ride fans were taken on this summer by a couple of hard swinging, fast pitching teams.

The Lady Bears of Little Cypress-Mauriceville staged a great run and were so close to the state tournament fans could taste it.

And the Lady Bears did it in style too.

They won by big margins and they also won the close games with come-from-behind victories that tested the nerves of everyone. Several times the team found itself down in the last inning only to come back and win again.

This year looks to be another great year as a vast majority of the players are back in 2013.

Bridge City’s baseball team once again made a long march through the playoffs and had Austin on its mind.

Yet again though it was the Robinson Rockets who ended the Cardinals season.

The end came after the Cardinals yet again won the District 21-3A title and did so in dominate form.

The playoffs brought some highs and lows for many players and just like the Lady Bears, the Cardinals will look to dominate yet again in 2013.

Thieves take to bank robberies in 2012

Economic hard times meant some residents became desperate to make a dollar or two in 2012.

Banks became the target of several people looking to get rich quick.

One of the most talked about robberies led to the arrest of Elizabeth Hardin, 54, who was accused of robbing the Capital One bank, the Honey Stop and Red’s Liquor Store all in June. She was arrested at a hotel and is in federal custody.

Several times during the investigations police with the Orange Police Department released videos of the suspects robbing the banks.

Investigators reported many tips flooded the station after the videos were posted and the tips eventually assisted in helping making an arrest.

November General Elections

Orange County saw a huge turnout for the general elections in November.

A total of 30,827 voters submitted ballots for the November general election, which is a record in Orange County.

In the race for Judge of County Court at Law, Mandy White-Rogers received 71 percent of the vote to defeat opponent Mike Abbott.

The race for County Commissioner in Precinct 3 was slightly closer, but challenger John Banken defeated incumbent Democrat, John P. Dubose by more than 800 votes. Banken received 55.60 percent of the vote.

Incumbent Chris Humble won re-election as Orange County Constable of Precinct 2 as he received 60.42 percent of the vote to be challenger Sarah Jefferson-Simon.

Republican candidate David Cagle won the race for Orange County Constable in Precinct 3 as he defeated challenger Lynn Arceneaux. Cagle received 64.18 percent of the vote.

Stockman defeated Democrat Max Martin. Stockman received 72 percent of the vote, while his winning margin across the district was 71 percent of the vote.

Stockman served one term as a congressman from 1995 to 1997.

Texas voters made Ted Cruz the state’s first Hispanic U.S. senator but their overwhelming support for fellow Republican Mitt Romney wasn’t enough to keep Democratic President Barack Obama from winning re-election to a second term.

Murders in Vidor

Vidor resident Curtis Allen Garrison was charged with capital murder in the shooting death of husband and wife, Aaron and Summer Conn, November 2012 in north Vidor. The shooting occurred at the end of Woodside Drive, where Garrison’s residence is secured with crime scene tape.

In an unrelated event, Kelly Gene Mitchell, 43, turned himself in to officers at the Orange County Jail after an arrest warrant was issued for him by the Vidor Police Department. Mitchell later paid bond, which was set at $50,000.

A probable cause affidavit detailed Vidor Officer L.B. Cupit’s account of an investigation into Rodger Dale Allen’s death in April 2012. Allen was Mitchell’s former stepfather.

According to the affidavit, investigators learned Allen intentionally wrecked into his stepson’s Ford truck.

Allen then started to run towards Mitchell’s truck with a “crazed” look and screamed “I am going to kill you now” before calling his former stepson a profane name, Mitchell told Cupit and Texas Ranger Bobby Smith in a voluntary statement.

Mitchell then told the investigators he fired at his ex-step father with an AR15 rifle until “Rodger stopped coming.”

Liquor comes to Vidor

Beer sales hit an all-time in some parts of Vidor this year, mainly because it was the first year stores were able to sell the beverage.

In November 2011, voters approved two propositions during the local option election to allow for the sale of beer and wine by grocery stores and convenience stores and to allow the sale of mixed beverages by licensed food and beverage certificate holders.

It did not take businesses long to apply for licenses to sell beer and wine and many stores were seen by January 2012 getting ready by altering their floor space.

Downtown development

After several years of planning, the downtown riverfront development project is a go.

A section of Front Street has been closed beginning at since July 30 and will remain closed through February 2013 as work continues on the Riverfront Boardwalk and the pavilion projects in downtown Orange.

The year 2011 focused on project design with concept development, design development, a public presentation, completing construction documents, going out for bids and beginning construction.

2012 was for the completion of the construction of the project.

Shortly after construction began on the new riverfront project, problems were discovered. Workers for SpawGlass, the contractor, discovered unknown “rip rap” along the river bank where there had been plans to drive vinyl pilings to stabilize the river bank.

The boardwalk will not be continuous as in the original concept, but will still be connected.

At the “Jack Tar” end will be the boat dock, with the east end of the walk extending over the water. There will be a break in the walk to allow the second section of the walk to be built inland. A walkway of pavers similar to those being used in the pavilion area will connect the two walks. The next section of the walk will begin at the foot of Division Avenue and extend nearly to the intersection of Front and Third Streets. There will be a pathway of pavers from the board walk to Front Street, and along Front Street that will connect to the third section of boardwalk near the site of the old railroad spur.

At each end of the project, the original plans will remain in effect. Pilings will be driven and the boardwalk will be at the edge of the bank, as planned.

When construction began on the project, it was necessary to remove the walkway along the bank at Ochiltree Park. A number of the walkway bricks were memorials with inscriptions. Salvaging the bricks was not possible due to the material the bricks were made of.

The memorials will be reconstructed with a different type of paver. SpawGlass is making new pavers with the original 427 names inscribed on individual pavers. They will be installed in the small plaza area where the walkway reconnects to the third section of boardwalk on the east end of the park.

The OC Convention and Expo Center

The building on 1442 which has been called several names during it’s construction including: The C.H.A.M.P.S. building, the 1442 building, and the Shelter of Last Resort.

The structure will now be known as the Orange County Convention and Expo Center.

A rodeo center/arena is planned for next to the convention and expo center and will be built entirely from private donations.

The schedule for completion was set for the end of December this year.

The Orange County Convention and Expo Center is down to the finishing touches. An extension has been requested due to a change order.

The contractor requested a 70 day extension which has the completion date on Feb. 27, 2013.

The building will be a place for first responders to stay in the event of a disaster in the area such as a hurricane.

Offices for the AgriLife Extension, Health & Code Compliance, Road & Bridge as well as the office for Emergency Management.

The Events room will be available for special events such as wedding receptions when it is not set up for emergency crews during disaster.

The county wanted a central location for the emergency crews, FEMA and other organizations for the benefit of the public.