Barry Burton has a long history with the county

Published 10:42 am Monday, July 23, 2018

By Ginger Broomes

The Orange Leader

For County Commissioner Barry Burton, his job is something that comes naturally. When he started as commissioner for Precinct 2 in 2015, he was replacing his uncle, who had retired from the position after 12 years.

Burton ran for the position and won, and, since his family has been in the area since Texas was a Republic, he found it an easy transition. Even his great, great, great, great grandfather had been the Orange County Judge in the 1800’s.

“We have a long history of service to the county,” he said.

Prior to becoming commissioner, he had worked in the industrial coatings industry and had also owned his own environmental business.

When he became commissioner, Burton made economic development a priority.

“Economic development is very important for this county. It’s the only way we’re going to move forward,” Burton said.

He set about restructuring and updating the Economic Development Commission, expanding membership and bringing in Jessica Hill as Director.

“It’s a competitive environment out there and we need every advantage we have,” Burton said. “It’s (the EDC) just something that we can’t do without.”

Getting the courthouse back to its historical point was another priority for Burton.

As part of a survey of county buildings three years ago, it was discovered that the bolts holding the marble 30 feet above the stairway were rusting. The county applied for and received an emergency safety grant to help restore the building.

“I’m proud of that,” Burton said. “And it only took 2.5 years to get the ‘emergency’ grant!”

And, as anyone in Orange County knows, drainage is an ongoing issue, and Burton says that’s something he was working on well before Harvey hit.

“One of the major drainage issues was in Mauriceville, and two years ago, in a joint effort between the county and the drainage district, we went in and made a big improvement,” Burton said. “People are talking about drainage – recently because of Harvey – but we’ve been working on drainage for years, with the drainage district. This is not something that happened because of Harvey. It’s been ongoing.”

However, he says that because of Harvey, grants are becoming available that will enable the county to fix infrastructure problems contributing to drainage issues. These funds will supply what the county wouldn’t otherwise have.

Burton’s priorities are not just economic development and drainage. He says one of the most rewarding parts of his job is to help within his precinct, whether fixing a problem that no one can seem to fix or, sometimes, just being a shoulder and sounding-board for people.

“I’ve had different kinds of jobs and probably enjoy this one more just because of the impact I can make to individual’s lives,” Burton said. “And, I’m very pleased that we have Jessica as our director of the EDC. The EDC is our biggest advantage in growing this county. It’s going to be very important, whether I’m here or not.”