Commissioners eliminate Park Director position

Published 3:24 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader

Orange County Commissioners’ Court convened a special session on Tuesday morning to discuss and potentially take action on a myriad of items of importance to the operation of Orange County.   The court authorized the Emergency Management Department move forward with plans to remove Hurricane Harvey debris from commercial property, Faith Based organizations and private property in coordination with volunteers and if necessary, with assistance from FEMA or other available options for a one-pass basis.   Approval was also granted for the Emergency Management Department to purchase an 8 foot by 40 foot climate controlled connex building as a temporary measure to house emergency supplies such as water and MRE’s (meals ready to eat). A long term solution for disaster response supply storage will be researched in the future.

Commissioner Barry Burton led discussion regarding a proposal to enter into an agreement with the Port of Orange to house up to 130 disaster recovery volunteers at the old Navy barracks off Simmons Drive, and for the group to have use of warehouses on site for building materials necessary for their work assisting Orange County citizens. Judge Stephen Brint Carlton commented he believed it “important to get involved for our community” and Commissioner Jody Crump asked how utilities will be paid. Burton replied possibly other volunteer organizations might assist. All members of the court agreed it was a worthy effort that would benefit Orange County with one commissioner stating research should be conducted to determine if there might be grant money or a 75/25 percent cost share with FEMA if Orange County needed to pay utilities while facilities were being used for recovery efforts.

After much discussion during multiple court sessions as well as the public workshop held Monday, October 30, the court approved moving the Parks Department under management of the Expo Center and not filling the vacant Director position for the Parks Department. This move frees up use of salary money to possibly hire seasonal or part time employees to assist with mowing and maintenance. The court approved restructuring the Emergency Management Department by separating emergency management duties from Risk Management and Airport functions. Risk Management/Airport will once again be its own department as it was several years ago. The Emergency Management Department will gain two new county positions dedicated to disaster recovery ostensibly titled Special Projects and Communication Coordinator focusing on obtaining public assistance for Orange County through grants or other available funds, as well as communicating and coordinating with private assistance groups. An Administrative Assistant position was created to aid in the overall effort.