The Record Newspapers - Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

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By Dave Rogers
For the Record 

WO lands $3.8M grant from GLO


Last updated 5/25/2021 at 10:40pm

The City of West Orange landed $3.8 million to improve drainage and Mayor Randy Branch was happy to get it.

“We applied for this grant and they finally finalized it,” said Branch, a former city alderman who was elected at the start of May to replace longtime mayor Roy McDonald.

“This has probably been in the works at least a couple of years.”

Monday, Branch joined Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Texas Sen. Robert Nichols, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and Vidor Mayor Pro Tem Misty Songe to announce the Texas General Land Office had approved a total of $19.6 million in flood mitigation projects for Orange County.

Vidor was the only other recipient, landing $15.8 million.

West Orange’s project will address drainage in the northern and central parts of the city, said Melinda Smith, grants consultant for Traylor & Associates.

She pointed out that West Orange had $25 million of grants in its pipeline.

“They have tried and been very successful in winning grants,” she said.

The GLO is Texas’ agency that disburses federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant once Congress releases the money.

The infrastructure projects will directly benefit thousands of residents in a mainly low-to-medium income (LMI) area that has faced repetitive storm damage in 2015, 2016, 2017 with Hurricane Harvey, and 2019, according to a GLO news release.

The funding goes for improvements in West Orange include deepening and widening roadside ditches, removing and replacing damaged and undersized culverts under driveways and street crossings, hardening existing outfall ditches and installing concrete lining to allow for faster dissipation of flood waters.

The city of West Orange will improve over 40 different sites throughout the city.

“Aging infrastructure is one of our greatest challenges when dealing with flooding,” Branch said. “From hurricanes, tropical storms and major rain events, our drainage system has been stressed beyond its limits.

“This funding we’re receiving today from Commissioner Bush and the GLO allows the city to make improvements to our drainage system that will help us be better prepared for these catastrophic flooding events.”

Sen. Nichols, a Jacksonville Republican who represents a slice of deep East Texas stretching more than 100 miles, recognized the award’s importance.

“It’s impossible to overstate how important these flood mitigation funds are to East and Southeast Texas,” he said. “Senate District 3 won over $105 million in the competitive flood mitigation fund award process because the projects in our region are vital to protecting Texans from future flood events.”

Rep. Phelan, a Beaumont Republican, thanked Commissioner Bush, grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush.

“Storms in Southeast Texas are common and can produce heavy rainfall and flooding that devastates communities,” Phelan said. “I want to thank Commissioner Bush for his persistence and steady leadership in securing the funding for Texas communities in need of increased resilience against flooding.

“He has been a trusted partner throughout this process and we look forward to working together on the second round of funding in the coming months.”


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