New Emergency Management Coordinator named

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, November 8, 2017

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader

Ralph Valenciano was introduced by Judge Stephen Brint Carlton as Orange County’s new Emergency Management Coordinator with 15-years experience in the field during the Tuesday afternoon Commissioners Court meeting.

“Been doing this right out of college,” Valenciano said.

He hit the ground running as of Monday, and provided the court a brief overview of debris removal progress and assurances of further, measurable progress in the near future.

An agreement with the Port of Orange was finalized that allows volunteers to be housed at the old Navy barracks on Simmons Drive.

The Mississippi Baptist Men’s organization is slated to take up residence at the facility in the near future to aid recovery efforts for citizens in need in Orange County. A provision in the agreement allows the county to take temporary ownership of the facility at no cost, although general liability insurance for the county will be in place and volunteer groups are also required to carry their own adequate insurance coverage, naming Orange County as an additional insured.

A $10,000.00 check to Orange County was awarded by Sabine River Authority to assist with the recovery from Tropical Storm Harvey. County Treasurer Christy Khoury and County Auditor Pennee Schmitt assured Commissioner Barry Burton that utilities costs for housing volunteers at the old Navy barracks can be paid for from the general fund into which the Sabine River Authority check was deposited.

Burton led discussion of the Courthouse repair master plan along with John of HDR Inc., an engineering company.

At issue are marble panels dropping from the façade as well as on-going issues with the windows. Two grants will be presented to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) that will encompass what the engineers determined need to be repaired to ensure the integrity and longevity of the historical Orange County Courthouse built eighty years ago in 1937 after the first courthouse burnt down. The final date for grant submission is January 5, 2018 and THC will make their determination in approximately April.

Nearing the close of the meeting Carlton said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all Texans and specifically those in Sutherland Springs, Texas after the shooting there. I don’t know what the answer is. I do know we need to help each other.”

As a closing note, Commissioner Jody Crump expressed sincere thanks to all who have or are serving the armed forces, “Thanks to all veterans for your service.”

Carlton reminded the court Friday, November 10 is Veteran’s Day and all county offices will be closed in observance.