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Post-Harvey cleanup, personnel changes focus of Commissioners Court

By Ginger Broomes

The Orange Leader

 

Post-Harvey cleanup and personnel changes were the main focus of the Tuesday meeting of Orange County Commissioners Court, along with the final tally on the hospital district vote results.

According to Judge Stephen Carlton, the discussion that had been planned for appointing a Long-term Disaster Recovery Board Member for Orange County was tabled until the following week. This would be Orange County’s own entity in the event of a disaster to handle disaster relief donations from various organizations. Such a board was put into place in March 2016, but eventually dissolved due to lack of volunteers. This new board would effectively replace that one and enable more effective distribution of resources.

Citing County Attorney Doug Manning’s impending retirement this month as the adviser to the court, the discussion went to finding not just a replacement for the position but an experienced candidate that would be the best fit for the county.

It was recommended by Manning that in order to find the most qualified candidate for the county’s specific needs, that the District Attorney in charge of hiring his replacement should be allowed to extend an offer to candidates for salary based upon experience, and not simply based upon the starting pay already set. A motion was then presented and approved by the commissioners that the DA could extend such an offer to the candidate of his choice, pending final salary approval by the court.

Commissioner John Gothia began the discussion of reclassifying the position of Expo Center/Parks Department Director in order to combine duties of this position to meet the changing needs of the community post-Harvey. This motion, along with the Parks Department request for one additional employee, was approved.

More post Harvey business was discussed with Orange County Emergency Management Coordinator Ralph Valenciano, who cited that only 2-percent of the hazardous debris (paints, household chemicals) remained to be picked up, and that the debris, along with electronic waste including TVs, computers, etc. would be completely cleared in the next few days.

Court also approved travel to Orlando Florida in order for the Emergency Management department to attend the National Hurricane Conference; Valenciano stated that this particular conference would also offer the type of specialized training that is necessary for Emergency Management personnel to keep their federal funding and keep up to date with changing FEMA regulations and changes in weather monitoring systems.

Approximately 7600 ballots were cast in the December 19 Hospital District Election according to Tina Barrow, Elections Administrator. The district failed with 1253 in favor and 6345 were against the measure.