J.B. Arrington grabs attention in Commissioners Court
Last updated 2/7/2023 at 7:10pm
J.B. Arrington turned a routine meeting of Orange County Commissioners Court into a memorable event as the 98-year-old local legend sought support for preserving breast milk.
Arrington, who is a World War II veteran, recently closed his J.B.'s Barbecue restaurant after 50 years in business. Before that, he was the longtime agriculture teacher at the old Stark High.
Arrington spoke during the citizens comments part at the beginning of the meeting. He began by thanking commissioners for "giving me this 20 minutes to speak." County Judge John Gothia replied that he had only three minutes.
But who can stop J.B.? Gothia let the storyteller talk for 12 minutes. J.B. told how he was born in a "cotton shack" in rural Orange County. However, his mother was short of milk and another woman with a baby helped supplement his feeding with her breast milk.
He credited the antibodies and colostrum in that breast milk to his longevity. And maybe he's onto something. Even medical doctors call the colostrum, the milk produced in the immediate days after childbirth, as "liquid gold," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's WIC program.
Arrington asked Commissioners Court to support research into the preservation of breast milk and colostrum.
Judge Gothia thanked Arrington and invited him to his office to talk at any time. Arrington replied that he had voted for Gothia and for Precinct 2 Commissioner Chris Sowell.
"If I was a politician, I'd say I voted for all 10 of you," he said to the five members of Commissioners Court. Even though Arrington might not admit to being a politician, he served a number of years as an elected official for the Orange County Drainage District.
The court then moved on to its routine business, but no one forgot Arrington's presentation. Later in the meeting, Precinct 3 Commissioner Kirk Roccaforte asked a representative from the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commissioner "What did you drink when you were a baby?"
The quip drew laughter and a comment from Precinct 4 Commissioner Robert Viator that, for the record, he did not ask that question.
During the regular business, County Emergency Management Director Joel Ardoin said the two-year contracts the county has for disaster debris removal and for monitoring the debris removal will be expiring. He said the county has joined with all the incorporated areas, Orange, Bridge City, West Orange, Pinehurst, Vidor, Rose City, and Pine Forest, to get the same contractors.
The court also appointed a selection committee to review the debris bid proposals. Ardoin will be on the committee, along with Payton Smith, Michael Stelly, Rodney Johnson, Tod McDowell, Chris Humble, Michelle Josey, and Mayor Bonnie Stephenson, or her appointee. Ardoin said all the cities will have a representative.
The court also approved a 20-year lease with the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commissioner for the county transportation department, which provides mini-bus rides around the county for senior citizens and the handicapped. Assistant County Attorney Denise Gremillion said the contract is for 10 years with a 10-year extension if both parties agree.
Bob Dickinson with the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission said the county's transportation program is underwritten by the Texas Department of Transportation. He is trying to get TxDOT grants for the site on FM 1442, but the state agency wants the planning commission to have a lease.
Dickinson said he wants a grant to build a two-bay maintenance garage so the mini-buses can get routine service. The addition, if the grants are approved, will be within the current site property.
County Tax Assessor-Collector Karen Fisher reported her office took in $48.8 million in property taxes in January, with $12.07 million collected for Orange County. Property taxes were due by the end of January and the month is the largest collection month of the year.
County Judge John Gothia quipped that he wished the county could collect that much every month.
The court also approved a request from the Orange County Fireman's Association to use the county seal on patches for uniforms. Gremillion said the group is non-profit and includes firefighters from the county's four emergency services districts with volunteer fire departments.
Commissioner Roccaforte asked if the seal could be attached to cars or trucks. Gremillion said the action allows use of the seal only on patches, not vehicles.
The court also approved spending $2,331 more on hotel rooms in Austin later this month so the court members and county staff can attend the Golden Triangle Days in Austin, February 27 and 28. The special days allow leaders from the region to lobby at the Texas Legislature for measures beneficial to the area.
Judge Gothia said the county has a daily limit on hotel expenses for out-of-town travel, but the allowance is much less than hotel rooms in Austin cost.