Court honors Capt. Tom Ray

Published 4:53 pm Monday, May 15, 2017

Constables to be issued vehicles

By Randy Strong

The Orange Leader


Lieutenant Joey Jacobs of the Sheriff’s Office made a request of the Commissioner’s Court to recognize the Late Captain Tom Ray. Jacobs asked that May 15, 2017 be  proclaimed “Captain Tom Ray Day” in Orange County to honor the former sheriff’s deputy who passed away in 2016 after many years a serving the county with integrity and honor. The proclamation was unanimously approved granting the request. May 15 is significant since it was designated in 1962 with a law signed by President John F Kennedy as “Peace Officer Memorial Day” in the United States.

Ray passed away Oct. 23, 2016 at age 46. Ray began his career with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in 1993 as a Reserve Patrol Deputy and was hired full-time in 1995 in the Corrections Division, where he eventually served as a Corporal and Field Training Officer.

Ray served 10 years on the Orange County Area Law Enforcement SWAT Team, held a Masters Peace Officer, a TCOLE Instructors Certification, a TCOLE Firearms Instructors Certification and was responsible for teaching Patrol Rifle Tactics Program and other firearms related trainings. Captain Ray also serves as the department’s Glock and Colt AR15/M-16 Armorer.

Ray was loyal and dedicated to the citizens of Orange County, the Sheriff’s Office, and to the employees of the agency. He served as the Orange County Sheriff’s Employees’ Association’s President from 2009 to 2012 and remained as a member of their Political Action Committee.

In January of 2014, Ray was promoted to Captain of the Criminal Investigations Division.

Constable Pct. 1 Chris Humble addressed Commissioner’s Court Tuesday night concerning the use of his personal vehicle to perform his duties as constable. Humble told the Commissioners he has been forced to retire his previous personal vehicle after many years as constable. He also asked if the commissioner Court could provide vehicles for him as well as the other County constables.

“I knew what I was getting into when I was elected for office,” Humble said. “I did not realize I was going to 100 percent responsible for a vehicle while conducting county business. There are aspects of the job which cannot be performed with a private vehicle.”

Recently elected Constable Pct. 4 Lane Mooney said he has spent over $2,000 is gas along in the four months since he was sworn into office.

“I would appreciate any assistance possible,” Mooney said.

The Commissioners approved assigning Humble the 2008 Ford Escape that they had approved being transferred to the County’s pool car inventory. The court requested Sheriff Keith Merritt to check any vehicles in his Department that were going to auction to see if any are suitable enough to be transferred to the constables. The court is also considering a contract to lease a fleet of vehicles including ones for all the constables and  their deputies.

Commissioner Pct. 3 John Gothia said the court is scheduled to meet with a fleet provider in June to discuss options. The constables and their deputies vehicles will be considered during the meeting.

The Commissioner’s Court approved another two week extension a certificate pay for sheriff’s deputies during the meeting. County Judge Brint Carlton made the motion to extend until June 4 the bonus pay for deputies who received extra training. Judge Carlton shared with the commissioners that his optimism for the collective bargaining talks with the Sheriff’s Office Employee’s Association had diminished since the last couple of bargaining sessions.

The next meeting regarding a Collective Bargaining Agreement is 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 17 in the Commissioners Courtroom in the Orange County Administration Building located at 123 South 6th Street in Orange.

The county will advertise for bids on group medical health insurance proposals. Commissioner Johnny Trahan was named as one of the nine members on a committee to review the insurance proposals as a possible replacement of the current insurance coverage provided by the Texas Association of counties (TAC).  The committee’s duty is to review other insurance packages for County Employees since TAC’s offer may not be the best option.

Under the current insurance, Option F which is considered a ‘cadillac’ option, the count pays $467 a month per person for the plan.

Carlton said a person approached him with information concerning the same plan was offered at a lower cost on the open market.

“IRS guidelines says once a person is retired, we cannot offer an option that was not available at the time of retirement,” Carlton said.

The Commissioner’s Court also approved offering future retirees from the county a monthly stipend as an optional benefit for a Medicare supplement. The amount was not set at Tuesday’s meeting but the court can establish the amount later which then can be adjusted at another meeting.

Other proclamations were also approved recognizing May 8-13 as “Economic Development Week” and May as “Elder Abuse Prevention Awareness Month” in Orange County. Cecilio Lopez and Shakira Jacobs with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services accepted the Proclamation