Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Some 80 Bridge City buildings got water in T-storm

At least 80 buildings in Bridge City had water inside during the Saturday, June 1, deluge, Commissioner Kirk Roccaforte said Tuesday during Orange County Commissioners Court.

Roccaforte's Precinct 3 includes the Bridge City area and the Tuesday meeting was the first since the storm. Parts of the Bridge City area six to seven inches of water within a short time.

The thunderstorm system that day was another example of only a small part of the county experiencing flooding rains while other areas do not get the heavy amount.

Roccaforte said the water that day came up within a quarter of an inch from getting inside his house.

He said the drainage system was working because the water went down quickly after the rain let up. "There's no drainage system that is going to handle five inches of rain in an hour and a half, he said. The neighborhoods with six to seven inches of rain had the precipitation for about two hours.

The city of Bridge City is responsible for drainage within the city limits, while the county handles other drainage. The Texas Department of Transportation has drainage for state highways and farm roads.

Roccaforte said people can help improve drainage by keeping their ditches clean and clearing out their culverts.

The issue is only one local government is dealing with as weather patterns change. Tuesday, the court approved a request by Mosquito Control Director Patrick Beebe to change his budget to move an extra $10,000 for overtime pay for his department. The current budget year will end September 30.

In May, the court gave Beebe permission to spend an additional $100,000 in pesticides to be sprayed from the mosquito control plane. Beebe then explained how mosquitoes plagued the county during winter months, causing the county to spray more than normal.

Tuesday, commissioners thanked Beebe and his department for their recent efforts. "Almost daily, I'm getting calls about how good you are doing," Precinct 2 Commissioner Chris Sowell told Beebe.

The court also approved payments totaling $2.52 million for drainage improvement projects by T Construction LLC. The money is coming from federal flood recovery grants issued through the Texas General Land Office. The drainage improvements include improving ditches and culverts at 19 locations along county roads. The streets have include Tulane Road, Granger in Orangefield, Teal Road, and North Bilbo.

Commissioners Court will soon be working with department heads to plan the new budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year that will start October 1. Commissioners got good news from the health insurance representative from the Texas Association of Counties.

The county's health insurance premiums will increase only 2 percent. The average county health insurance increases in the state will be at a 4.6 percent increase.

County Personnel Director Lori Ardoin said the county's rate increased 9.9 percent in 2020. However, the county started a wellness program for employees and has set up screenings to improve health. Those improvements have brought less need for medical treatments, which has led to the reduction in costs.

"Our employees are healthier and feeling better," County Judge John Gothia said.

The county will be paying $1,019 per month for each employee, up from $1,006. The new rate includes a program approved by commissioners Tuesday to remove the $250 per year deductible for prescription medicines.

Other bills commissioners voted to pay included $683,020 from the general fund to the Texas Association of Counties to pay for property insurance for July 1, 2024, through July 1, 2025.

Also, a payment of $281,462 to the Texas Association of Counties for insurance for auto liability, auto physical damage, general liability, law enforcement liability, and public officials liability. In addition, there was $49,900 to pay for the Workers Compensation insurance through Texas Association of Counties.

The quarterly payment of $148,110 to the Orange County Appraisal District was approved, along with $21,653 to the University of Texas Medical Branch for the June contract payment at the health center, payments of $1,150 each to Claybar Funeral Home and Memorial Funeral Home for indigent funeral expenses, and $14,077 to Schaumburg and Polk for engineering services.

The sheriff's office received permission to move $10,000 from one budget item to repairs to cover lightening strikes to the radio tower and communications equipment.

Also, the parks department was approved to spend $13,476 for a John Deere Gator to replace the one that broke.


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