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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

County sets public hearing for M'Ville truck noises

 

Last updated 12/19/2023 at 8:02pm

People in Mauriceville who have an opinion on noisy engine braking on big truck rigs will have a chance to tell Orange County Commissioners Court at 8:30 a.m. on January 9.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Chris Sowell has recommended the county adopt a "no engine braking" zone at the intersection of Texas Highways 62 and 12. The court will hold a public hearing for the zone during that time before going into a workshop meeting at 9 a.m.

The court had its last meeting of the year on Tuesday and voted to set that public hearing after Sowell said he has had a number of complaints about the truckers.

Motor websites explain that "engine braking" is letting a foot off the accelerator to slow the vehicle down before applying brakes. The method can save wear and tear on brakes and give a bit of gasoline savings.

However, in the big rigs with compression brakes, that method can end up "producing a pretty loud and annoying noise which some liken to a machine gun firing," according to Capital One Auto Navigator.

Mauriceville and other areas of the county have seen increased heavy truck traffic as the construction for the new $8.5 billion ChevronPhillips petrochemical plant gets in full swing.

In other business, commissioners approved a recommendation from County Elections Administrator Donna Alford to hold a joint primary election for the Orange County Republican and Democratic parties. She said she met with Democratic Chair John Cash Smith and Republican Chair Leo LaBauve and they agreed.

In past years, each party held its own primary race and paid the county office to oversee it. A voter coming in has been asked Republican or Democratic and they reply outloud. In the past decade, only Republicans have run for local offices. The 2024 races will include presidential primaries.

Alford explained that parties will save money on the joint election. The county has enough voting machines to rent to the Republicans, but the Democrats would have to rent machines from a private company if they were having separate primaries.

With a joint primary, the identifications of voters are checked for the registered voter roles. A voter does not have to say outloud a party affiliation, but instead will choose which party to cast on the machine. They will then be checked onto the county's registered voter roles as voting in the specific party primary, so a record will be kept. People who vote in one party's primary may not vote in the other party's primary runoff races.

Last year, the Texas Secretary of State's Office approved Orange County adopting a measure to let any registered voter in the county cast a ballot at any voting site in the county, rather than only at their assigned small neighborhood box.

In separate business, the court approved Alford hiring an additional full-time worker for the next two months. She said one of her regular employees is taking a leave and with the presidential primary year races this year, her office needs three full-time workers.

The court approved extending a contract with KMY Consulting to oversee the Local First program, which helps individuals, contractors, and businesses to work with the new ChevronPhillips plant construction.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Johnny Trahan thanked the Orange County Sheriff's Office for once again sponsoring the Blue Santa program and party for parents who need help getting their kids Christmas gifts.

 

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