County business delays Commissioners Court

Published 5:07 pm Thursday, September 28, 2017

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader

Orange County Commissioners Court Tuesday afternoon meeting was delayed nearly an hour until Commissioner Barry Burton arrived at approximately 2:54 p.m., thereby giving the court the necessary quorum to conduct county business.

Upon Burton’s arrival, Commissioner Jody Crump called the meeting to order and although an apology for the delay was then expressed to court attendees (county employees and citizens alike), no explanation was forthcoming until the arrival of Judge Stephen Brint Carlton at approximately 3:29 p.m. Carlton said he apologized for his delay because he was attending a meeting at Orangefield ISD with the Texas Education Commissioner regarding issues relating to Orange County schools in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

“I apologize for my absence but it is not often you can discuss issues face to face with a director of a state agency and we needed to take this opportunity to meet and make sure our schools are taken care of,” Carlton said.

Burton echoed Carlton’s sentiments and expressed concern for students impacted by Hurricane Harvey in light of the upcoming State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test and would like to see the test suspended, “to ensure our students aren’t disadvantaged because of the aftermath of Harvey.”

Carlton said he has been assured there are mechanisms in place to ensure no one is disadvantaged.

County business included approval by the court to redirect funds in the amount of $150,000 as requested by the Orange County Economic Development Director, Jessica Hill for the purpose of providing small business disaster recovery grants. Prior to Hurricane Harvey, those funds were authorized but restricted for the purpose of land acquisition and development.

Burton said he thought the request is, “an excellent idea to assist our county businesses.”

Hill said she will add an additional $50,000 from her budget to make a total of $200,000 available as grant money to assist small business recover.

Essie Bellfield addressed the court regarding her strong feelings about the county not having utilized the Baptist Hospital building to house displaced county citizens, instead of housing them in tents.

Bellfield said, “We have a big building ready and waiting. Everything we need is right there and could have used that if we wanted too instead of housing people in tents.”

She went on to say she had spoken with six doctors and they all agreed the reason it wasn’t done was because, “It’s all about the money.”

“Something should be done,” Bellfield said. “I’ll work with you on it and I’ll fight with you too if need be.”