County transporting prisoners from out of state to stand trial

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, August 21, 2019

By Michael Cole

The Orange Leader


On a wet afternoon, Orange County Commissioners Court met to discuss elections, meeting times and other items.

So far this year, Orange County has spent $9,700 on transporting individuals back to Orange County to stand trial.

The company that was transporting prisoners back to Orange County to stand trial went out of business, leaving the Sheriff’s Office with the task and cost of transporting them.

Sheriff Keith Merritt stated that Orange County had gone as far as Alaska and New York for prisoners. 

“In fact, as we speak, we are currently bringing a prisoner back from North Dakota,” Merritt said.

Merritt added they were looking at finding another company.

Elections Administrator Tina Barlow talked about state mandatory inspections of electronic voting machines ahead of the 2019 constitutional amendment vote and 2020 elections.

She presented a list of election judges and alternates for approval of the court for the next election cycle. 

The court approved moving the mandatory meeting of the court back to Tuesday at 2 p.m. starting in October. Currently, they meet on the second Wednesday at 10 a.m., and Tuesday at 2 p.m. the other three times.

County Judge John Gothia explained the Wednesday meeting was approved last year and could not be changed until this October under State law.

“We found that Tuesday worked best since it gave department heads a chance to compile information for the meeting,” Gothia stated. “Plus our media outlets were against publishing deadlines and Wednesday was not working for them.”

In other actions, the court approved the Texas General Land Office opening an office at the Precinct 3 office at the Airport. 

They also approved the opening of a WIC office on the Western Side of the county.

Commissioner Robert Viator Jr. stressed the need of having this office.

“In July of 2017, prior to Harvey, WIC was servicing 1210 cases; July 2019, the amount of cases had dropped to 639,” Viator said. “I would hate that that many people not be receiving services because of access.”

Watch the court session HERE