Free State Cellars plans improvements

Published 6:57 am Wednesday, August 11, 2021

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By Dawn Burleigh

A three-phase project sees the start of Phase One for infrastructure improvements for Free State Cellars. Orange City of Economic Development (EDC) and the City Council approved an EDC incentive for Free State Cellars for an amount to not exceed $167,000.

This now starts the 60-day waiting period for the next step.

The first phase will include an event lawn, dock and pond, a parking lot, arbor, a pat to a pavilion, a pavilion as well as a bottling barn and public restrooms.

Total cost for the projects is estimated at $556,744.

Director of Public Works and Engineering Department James B. “Jim” Wolf introduced James Ingram as the Engineering Assistant for the city.

“He is a veteran and has 10 years of experience,” Wolf said. “He is local, living just north of Mauriceville, in Orange County.”

As budget workshops are being scheduled, Mayor Larry Spears Jr said, “We have been through a lot in the last year and are facing it again with the Delta variant. The staff has been working hard so we do not have to raise taxes.”

The numbers on the budget the council will start discussing next Tuesday are based in the current tax rate according to City Administrator Mike Kunst.

Council Member David Bailey commented on seeing progress in litter clean up on Tulane in Orange.

“I was driving on Tulane towards 62 when I saw a prisoner picking up garbage on the road,” Bailey said. “He worked hard for four hours.”

Bailey said he spoke with Constable Pct. 2 Jeremiah Gunter who said he may have 30 more persons out to clean up soon.

Council Member Terrie Salter said a new food bank opened on 1301 West Park Ave in Orange.

“They are open from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the first and third Saturday of each month,” Salter said. “This is a blessing because people can shop and get the things they want.”

“Covid is raging again,” Council Member Mary McKenna said. “Whatever you are doing to protect yourself, do it again and stay safe.”

Mayor Spears took a moment to recognize Orange Police Department Detective Sergeant Howard Devault.

“I want to recognize Devault for his years of service to our community,” Spears said. “To see the support his comrades show his family was moving.”

Spears also asks residents to register with STAN.

“We have disturbances out there,” Spears said. “Stay tuned.”

STAN is the Southeast Texas Alerting Network helps local emergency management officials to send messages to the public with two types of messages.

First is the emergency message such as the need to evacuate. In the case of an event that warrants public action, local emergency management can send emergency messages describing what actions need to be taken in response to the emergency.

Second is an outreach message such as water outages, street closures or traffic notices.

The convenience of STAN notifications is you can set it up to send you a text message so it goes directly to your phone and you will get it no matter where you are. Direct phone calls of a recorded message or email notifications are also available.

Register for STAN at to sign up for cell phone notifications via voice or text, or to sign up for email notifications. You can also sign up to receive outreach messages.

You can also call 1-844-578-7826 to register for notifications.

Complete the information form with your name, phone number, email, password and address. Providing your address allows officials to target alerts to specific areas when appropriate.

Once you have completed registration, you can go back to your city/county’s page at any time using the buttons to the right and log in with your email address and password to manage contact information, add phone numbers, emails and addresses and add or remove subscriptions.

Also, at any time, you can call 1-877-THE-STAN (1-877-843-7826) toll-free and hear important messages from local emergency management officials or industry.

STAN is sponsored by the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission, the Industry of Southeast Texas, local media and the Local Emergency Planning Committees of Jefferson, Orange and Hardin Counties.