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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

Trahan warns of debris in Sabine


Last updated 4/16/2024 at 8:31pm

Members of the non-profit group Bikers Against Child Abuse accepted a proclamation from Orange County Commissioners Court recognizing their work and declaring the last weekend of April as BACA Heroes Weekend. The bikers describe the child victims of abuse as their 'heroes' for courage in facing their abusers.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Johnny Trahan warned boaters to be on the lookout for logs and other debris washing down the Sabine River after flooding last week in Newton and Jasper counties, north of Orange.

The flooding has also led to the Sabine River Authority opening flood gates at Toledo Bend Reservoir as the level got above the legal maximum.

Trahan said he was called last week to Texas Highway 12 in Deweyville north of his precinct to look at the log jam at the Sabine River swing bridge crossing from Texas to Louisiana.

The bridge had to be closed for several hours as crews from mostly the Louisiana Department of Transportation cleared out the log jam. Trahan said he learned Texas and Louisiana skip a bridge in determining who oversees maintenance on the Sabine River bridges.

Trahan said the crews also made sure the log jam cleared the train trestle bridge. But, he warned, those logs are washing down the Sabine into Orange County. "You can run into a log anytime on that river," he said.

Orange County Commissioners Court met Tuesday with a full quorum.

Business included accepting a $275,000 Rural Law Enforcement Grant for the Orange County District Attorney's Office. It is the same type of grant recently given through the Texas Comptroller's Office for the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

The grants are to help rural legal systems give higher salaries to deputies and prosecutors. Pay rates and raises in rural areas have not kept up with 21st Century costs of living. Attorneys and law enforcement officers are not taking, or keeping jobs in rural areas because of higher pay in other places.

The $275,000 will help go toward salaries in the DA's office.

Earlier, the court accepted $500,000 to help with the pay for Orange County deputies. Tuesday, the court accepted a proposed pay scale for the extra money. The information will be used for new payments to deputies.

The court approved a 20 percent homestead exemption for the 2024-25 budget year. The exemption allows the qualified homeowner to deduct 20 percent of the appraised value of the house that is used to calculate county property taxes. The county has kept the same homestead exemption for nearly 50 years.

Tax Assessor-Collector Karen Fisher reported her office collected $2.5 million in property taxes in March. The deadline for the current tax payments was January 1. The office also collects property taxes for cities and school boards and special districts. Of the total March collected, $819,452 went to the county.

The court also approved a federal Community Development Block Grant special project for $1 million for Tulane Street on-site sewer project issued as part of recovery money for Tropical Storm Imelda.

Donna Alford, county elections administrator, asked to move $10,500 from her office's contingency funds to cover costs of the May 4 city and school elections, plus the May 28 party primary run-off elections that will include Republican challenger David Covey running against District 21 state representative Dade Phelan, who also serves as speaker of the Texas house.

Alford told commissioners that the cities and schools will reimburse the office for their individual expenses. The political parties will also reimburse costs for all but early voting for the primaries.

The court postponed a vote on getting a computerized program to keep track of county road conditions and work orders for repairing. County Engineer Corey Oldbury he found a suitable program and the company offering it will provide help in acquiring a grant to help the county pay for the program.

When Assistant County Attorney Denise Gremilion asked about bids, County Judge John Gothia said the program would be proprietary with the county receiving proposals.

Also, Commissioner Trahan said he can ride the roads in his precinct and tell the condition and what needs repairing. He questioned whether the county needs the program. Gothia said if the county tries the program, it will still be able to end the contract at any time, including if the county does not get a grant to pay for it.

The court agreed to wait on a legal decision by Gremilion to assure the purchase meets state procurement laws.

The court gave a proclamation to Dale Parish to declare April 28-May as Soil Stewardship Week. Parish serves on the board of the Lower Sabine-Neches Soil Conservation No. 446.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Robert Viator asked for a committee to be appointed to review fees charged to rent county buildings. He said Sabrina Gray, who oversees the Expo Center and Claiborne West Park, had request the county look into changing the fees.

District Clerk Anne Reed reported that the state district court judges in the county agreed to a new pay rate for people called to jury duty. If someone appears in the morning of the first day and is then released, they will be paid $20 for the morning. If they are called back after 1:30 p.m. that day, the will be paid $58. Then every other full day serving on a jury will be $58.

Commissioner Trahan, who is retired from Entergy, praised Jefferson County Commissioner Vernon Pierce, who died this week of cancer. Trahan said he had known Pierce for years as the both worked for Entergy. County Judge Gothia also praised Pierce and said Pierce was retired and volunteered to help his county during the Covid 19 pandemic. After getting involved in public service, Pierce decided to run for office.


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