Orange residents supercharge city through volunteer boards. Mayor, others share success stories.

Published 12:40 am Wednesday, December 14, 2022

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Orange leaders are encouraging residents who want to get more involved in their community to serve on a board or commission.

“As a member, individuals are able to share ideas and help positively impact the future of the City of Orange,” says Hillary Gravett, social media coordinator for the City of Orange. “There are several opportunities to serve in a volunteer capacity to make a difference in the community.”

Those opportunities not only allow citizens to give back to their community but also positively impact the future of the city by serving on a board or commission.

“The importance of citizens getting involved is we’re able to hear the voices from the people who actually live in the city wanting to take part in ensuring a solid future,” Mayor Larry Spears Jr. said.

Spears says the many boards and commissions aid him and the city council in making decisions that help get the city where it is today.

“You get to hear and see all of the different pieces of the puzzle it takes to make things work,” Spears said. “There’s a chance to hear what’s going on and make a judgement, depending on which board, to approve different projects trying to come into the city.”

Sherry Combs, who serves on the Library Advisory Board, says the Orange Public Library has been a part of her life for more than 60 years.

“The library has been an integral part of both my children and grandchildren’s lives,” Combs says. “They always looked forward to our family’s library day and are still regular visitors.”

As a board member, Combs not only helps play a role in developing policy, but also advocacy for the library and for literacy in general.

“The library is not just about books,” Combs says. “There are computers available, electronic games for students, a consortium where patrons can download electronic books, provide activities for all ages and special events such as the annual book fair.”

Rusty Dollar, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) Board member, says it’s been an honor serving the city on this board.

“There are so many in Orange who are working together to create opportunities to showcase the uniqueness that Orange offers those that live in and near our town,” Dollar says. “I love our CVB team of Jay, Brandy, Leigh Ann and Hillary that work creatively and passionately to provide events for families of all ages. We are truly blessed to be a part of Orange, Texas!”

So, what are the various boards and what function do they serve?

Planning and Zoning Commission

This Commission makes recommendations to the City Council concerning proposed changes in land use or zoning that may affect the welfare of the community. The Commission also makes decisions concerning proposed subdivision developments and is responsible for the development and maintenance of the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board

The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) assists the city in the proper operation of the CVB by making recommendations for the expenditure of hotel/motel tax revenues to encourage tourism within the City of Orange.

Board of Adjustment

This board acts on applications for variances to the zoning ordinance as well as applications for special exceptions to the zoning ordinance.  Members also decide appeals from an administrative decision of city staff and hold public hearings in conjunction with the council as necessary.

Citizens Advisory Committee

This committee reviews applications and makes recommendations to the City Council regarding levels of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding consistent with the Citizen’s Participation Plan and the City of Orange Consolidated Plan.

Committee members also review applications, interview students, and make the selection for the City of Orange Scholarship Program.

Civil Service Commission

The Civil Service Commission is an unbiased, independent body that hears and rules on appeals filed by State, county and municipal civil service employees, candidates for employment, and appointing authorities.

Economic Development Corporation

The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) promotes community improvement and economic development of new and expanded business enterprises within the city and the State of Texas. The corporation provides and encourages employment in the furtherance of the public welfare of, for, and on behalf of the city by developing, implementing, providing, and financing projects.

Historic Preservation Commission

Members of this commission promotes the historic features of Orange to residents of Orange County; disseminates information to the public, owners of historic landmarks, and owners of property within historic districts about the preservation and enhancement of historic landmarks; and reviews building plans with applicants anticipating new construction in designated historic districts. The Commission also conducts research on the historic features of the city; makes recommendations on potential historic landmarks; considers landmark improvement plans, and other duties as set forth in the City of Orange Code of Ordinances.

Housing Authority Board

This board makes independent decisions and acts in an advisory capacity directly to the Orange Housing Authority operating under Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines.

Library Advisory Board

Members serve as an advisory committee to the City Council and the Orange Public Library. The Board conducts studies of special problems relating to library service and operations and makes library service policy recommendations to the City Council and/or City Manager.

“Serving on any of the advisory boards or councils is a way of making sure the needs of the community are met by those providing services to the City of Orange,” Combs said.

Spears says the more diverse these boards and commissions are, the better the outcome.

“Everyone is raised differently — from different backgrounds and cultures, with different ideas and opinions. When a project comes to us, having that opportunity to brainstorm and hear different perspectives allows us to make the best possible decision for everyone,” Spears said.

Those who wish to serve on a board or commission can submit an application online at or by calling the City Secretary at 409-883-1042.

— Written by Chrissie Mouton