More industrial growth, improvement may be coming
Last updated 8/29/2023 at 6:57pm
Orange County continues on the path for more industrial growth as two projects have been approved for possible tax abatements from the state and local entities.
Orange County Commissioners Court Tuesday approved a resolution approving a Reinvestment Zone a 435.4 acres outside of Bridge City. County Economic Development Director Megan Layne said the area is known as Humble Island. Its a tract of land that on the banks of the Neches River that sticks out near the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Texas Highway 87.
Layne told commissioners the resolution does not obligate the county to any agreements, but begins the process to allow negotiations for tax abatements and other incentives to attract a business or industry. She said a company is interested in locating to the property and the county will now continue talks for negotiations.
Last week, the Orange City Council approved a resolution to create a state Enterprise Zone for the Arlanxeo petrochemical plant at 4647 FM 1006, known locally as Chemical Row. The move is the first step in a planned $35 million upgrade to the plant.
Arlanxeo is one of the oldest plants on Chemical Row and has had several names through the past 60 years. The current owners plan to make the investment for upgrades and new equipment to maintain 240 full-time employees.
The Enterprise Zone designation will allow the company to apply to the state Governor's Office of Economic Development for tax abatements or incentives. The plant is in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city, leading to the city council approving the move.
The county and the city worked together, along with State Representative Dade Phelan, who is speaker of the Texas House, to negotiate the abatements the led to the $8.5 billion ChevronPhillips-Qatar Entergy plant, Golden Triangle Polymers, now being built along Texas Highway 87 between Orange and Bridge City.
County Commissioners on Tuesday also approved buying four new pickup trucks for county offices. County Judge John Gothia said all the purchases are for available trucks through dealerships that bid on the state's regional "buy-boards." Those cooperatives have regional dealers bid on public prices for vehicles and allow the entities to use those prices for purchases. He said he has tried to get Orange County vehicle dealers to participate on the buy board so the county shop local. However, no local dealers bid.
Mosquito control and Commissioners Court will each be getting a 2023 Chevrolet Silverado for $45,207 from Lake Country Chevrolet. The Road and Bridge Department is getting a 2023 Ford pickup for $71,103 from Silsbee Ford. Also, the Texas Juvenile Probation Fund is buying a 2023 Ford Crew Cat for the county juvenile probation department from Silsbee Ford for $46,561.
County Road Engineer Corey Oldbury asked for commissioners to move back the start times for employees in his Road and Bridge Department. The change will start on Tuesday. Road and bridge crews will be working from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Earlier in the summer commissioners approved letting the workers go in at 6 a.m. and get off at 2:30 p.m. because of the record-breaking heat. They get a half-hour lunch break. Oldbury said road work productivity increased with the cooler hours, but the hours needed to be adjusted as daylight decreases.
After September, commissioners will approve another change in hours that will likely go back to the work traditional times.
The court also approved a time change for its regular meetings for the next year. The court recently has been having regular meetings at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, once a month. Other meetings are called "special" court meetings.
County Judge Gothia said the new time will be 10 a.m. on Tuesdays.
In other business, the court gave Engineer Oldbury permission to hire a company at $5,890 a day to do remote videos of drainage pipes along the area of Lancaster Drive in the housing area across the highway from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Johnny Trahan said apparently drainage lines were laid years ago from county ditches to outfall lines of the Orange County Drainage District. The land developer sold a lot and a house was built over one of the main pipes. Gothia said drainage blockage has been damaging the foundation of the house.
Oldbury said using the remote camera will allow the county to see if and where blockage there is blockage in the pipe so a way to fix the drainage can be determined.