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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

Commissioner says levee system design continues

 

Last updated 5/14/2024 at 10:25pm

Commissioner Kirk Roccaforte

Work continues on the design for a levee-seawall system in Orange County, Commissioner Kirk Roccaforte said Tuesday after Commissioners Court approved a contract to allow representatives access onto some properties.

Commissioners Court met with three of the five members and Precinct 4 Commissioner Robert Viator serving as judge pro tem. Also present were Roccaforte from Precinct 3, and Precinct 2 Commissioner Chris Sowell. County Judge John Gothia and Precinct 1 Commissioner Johnny Trahan were absent.

The court's business included a renewal of a contract to allow right of entry for two parcels of property that are either public land or the ownership cannot be determined.

Roccaforte represents Orange County on the Gulf Coast Protective District, which is overseeing the eventual goal of a seawall-levee system from Orange County to Sabine Pass and on to Galveston Bay.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the project and federal funding of $1.9 billion was approved for the Orange County section back in 2017.

Roccaforte said engineers are still working on design specifics. He said dates to begin and end construction keep changing.

Four years ago, the construction was expected to start in 2022 with completion target in 2026. No construction has started at this time.

Roccaforte said the work on increasing the existing levees in Port Arthur has started. That project was approved and allocated at the same time as the Orange protection system.

According the the Galveston U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, the latest plans for the Orange County system are for 20 miles of new earthen levees, plus three miles of concrete seawalls. The project will include building 14 to 16 new pump stations and 150 to 200 gravity drain systems, which will help move floodwaters out of the county and into Sabine Lake.

The project will also have 40 closure structures and two navigable sector gates to close in the case of a sea surge from a hurricane like that of Hurricane Harvey in 2008.

In other business of Commissioners Court, County Tax Assessor-Collector Karen Fisher reported her office in April collected $10.44 million in taxes. Of that total, the county's share was $767,000. Fisher's office also collects property taxes for other entities, including cities and school districts in the county. Current year taxes were due January 31.

Jail Captain James Eiselstein told commissioners that Five Star Correctional Services, which provides the meals for inmates in the county jail, have increased the meal prices to fit with the consumer price index. Commissioners approved paying the increase, which made each meal cost $1.54, which is nearly nine cents more per meal.

The court also approved allowing Sheriff Jimmy Lane Mooney to apply for a grant to pay a 50 percent reimbursement for bulletproof vests for deputies. The grant is issued through the U.S. Department of Justice.

The court agreed to give a right-of-way access permit to Entergy Services, Inc., to install two subsurface conduit bores along Foreman Road. The bores will be from FM 105 to the project site. That area is part of the construction area for the new $8.5 billion Chevron Phillips petrochemical plant called Golden Triangle Polymers.

Bills paid included $209,351 from the Texas General Land Office hurricane recovery grant fund to T Construction, LLC, for drainage improvements, plus $36,197 to Schaumburg & Polk engineering for drainage work under the same hurricane recovery grant fund.

University of Texas Medical Branch was paid $21,653 from the general fund for its monthly payment to run a health center under a decades-old contract. Also, $8,531 from the general fund to the city of Orange for maintenance on the dispatch console for the Orange County Sheriff's Office. In addition $2,300 went from the general fund to pay indigent funeral expenses from Memorial Funeral Home.

Another $961,000 was approved to be spent from the general fund for regular operating expenses, along with $102,000 for expenses from the road and bridge fund.

The court accepted a replat of part of Lot 40 of the Houseman Acres subdivision off Oilla Road in Precinct 3. The plat had been reviewed by the Orange County Drainage District and the city of Orange because it is within the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction.

 

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