Time to Move On

Published 7:34 am Saturday, January 7, 2017

Editorial by Bobby Tingle

Orange County will have a new Sheriff in four years, according to Sheriff Keith Merritt. After taking his oath into office Sunday, Jan. 1, Merritt announced this is his last term. His announcement came with an expression of gratitude to the residents of Orange County, expressing appreciation of their support and confidence, allowing him to serve as Sheriff.

Several other elected officials also took their oath of office Sunday.

Brandy Robertson begins her first term as Orange County Clerk, Karen Fisher is the new County Tax Assessor Collector, Lane Mooney will serve as Precinct 4 Constable while Mark Philpott will perform the same duties in Precinct 3. Hershel Stagner Jr. will assume the duties of Justice of the Peace. Stagner took his oath on Wednesday.

For the most part, these officials were elected in the Super Tuesday Primary Election held March 1, 2016, along with County Commissioner for Precinct three John Gothia. Johnny Trahan was elected Precinct One Commissioner a few weeks later in a runoff with Bobby Manshack.

The Democrat Party in Orange County did not offer any candidates to oppose these Republicans in the General Election.

The citizens of Orange County ought to expect elected officials to fulfill their duties with wisdom, while using the experience and talents they bring to their office.

Orange County is not at a crossroads or a historic moment of opportunity. To say that would be an exaggeration. There are opportunities and challenges facing Orange County, but that is usually the norm at most points in history.

What do these individuals have to offer the county as a result of their election to office?

During the campaign, several of those contending for office submitted written position statements that were published in The Orange Leader. Below is a review of their assertions about their abilities, experience, passions and talents. Gothia, Trahan, Fisher and Robertson submitted these assertions.

Common among them are their Orange County roots. For the most part, they have worked, attended schools, married spouses, raised families, attended churches and gained their knowledge and experience in this county.

Robertson and Fisher have worked in the office where they will serve. Each were recognized as hard working capable employees, which are traits every good manager needs.

Gothia and Trahan will be first term members of Commissioner’s Court. Each boast of experience in the work force, on boards of area organizations and organizers of local events designed to impact the economic vitality of the county. Each stresses their ability to lead and operate among leaders to achieve common goals. Both see the need for economic growth and development and boast of their ability to bring those goals to the forefront.

Trahan delineated several specific components of Orange County that enhance the prospects for economic development, including; the Sabine Neches Waterway, intra-coastal canal, railways, Sabine River Authority Canal and improvements underway to Interstate 10.

The talents and abilities these individuals claim will be necessary as they work with current members and staff of the bodies within which they will work.

There is much work to be done. On the front burner is a hospital for Orange County.

Friday, January 6, a press conference was held in the City of Orange City Council meeting room. Dr. Shawn Oubre, Orange City Manager, outlined a plan to bring a full service hospital to Orange County. Oubre developed the plan outline with the aid of Jay Trahan, Orange Assistant City Manager and Jessica Hill, Executive Director, Orange County Economic Development Corporation. Oubre presented highlights of the plan along with a very tight timeline and plan of action.

It was stressed, in this conference, the importance of the governing bodies, citizens, industry and state legislature to work together to fulfill the goal of a fully functioning hospital in Orange County.

Orange County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton accepted responsibility for the project with plans to move forward through Commissioner’s Court.

A hospital is vital to Orange County. Hill reported in the conference that at one time Baptist Hospital was the third largest employer in the county. A hospital is a key component when site selectors consider competing locations. Citizens need a place where they can receive the health care necessary for personal health. A hospital provides jobs, health care and economic development opportunities.

There will be questions and there will be concerns, but now is the time to ask, to listen and look for beneficial solutions.

Keep an open mind as our elected officials and municipalities move on.


Bobby Tingle is the publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at bobby.tingle@orangeleader.com.