Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Mosquito control ready for post-storm outbreak

Expect the post-storm mosquitoes to come out in another week and a half, Orange County Mosquito Control Director Patrick Beebe told commissioners court Tuesday.

But Beebe's department is prepared. During the Tuesday meeting, Orange County Commissioners Court approved him moving $50,000 from county contingency, or emergency, funds to pay for overtime salaries through the end of September.

Beebe has had to make budget adjustments for the current fiscal year because of influxes of mosquitoes, even during January, February, and March, which are usually months without many of the pests.

The county's fiscal year runs October 1 through September 30. Already this year, the commissioners court approved Beebe spending an extra $100,000 for insecticides for the county spray plane.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Chris Sowell said he was out when Monday when Beryl was blowing through and didn't see a mosquito. However, he admitted the wind was probably blowing them away.

That's when another commissioner asked about when to expect post-storm mosquitoes. Usually, salt water influxes from a storm surge will lead to a hatching of salt-water mosquitoes, a large variety than can bite through some clothing.

Commissioners said they need to make some new considerations for mosquito control when preparing for the 2024-25 budget year.

Magen Lee with Texas AgriLife program presented a quarterly report to commissioners. Some of their activities from April, May, and June included holding 12 adult sewing classes, eight diabetes education courses, 11 jam and jelly canning classes, and hosting 109 kids at youth cooking camps.

Also, they had 358 senior citizens at the annual May Senior Citizen Rally Day. Lee said Justice of the Peace Chad Jenkins fixed a meal for 500 people, including the volunteers at the event.

She told commissioners the spots for the youth cooking classes fill up usually within 10 minutes of registration being announced. More volunteers are needed for the cooking classes if they enrollment is to be expanded.

The AgriLife Department includes 4-H and Clover Leaf activities.

County Tax Assessor-Collector Karen Fisher reported her office collected $2.3 million in property taxes for the month of June. Her office also collects property taxes for the cities, school districts, and special districts. The county's share of the June collections was $333,195.

Bills approved included $106,330 from the county's general fund to the Texas Association of Counties for group medical, dental and life policies for employees younger than 65. Also, $83,012 from the general fund to Amwins Group Benefits for June insurance for county retirees aged 65 and older.

A payment of $47,050 was approved to Silsbee Ford for a 2023 Ford F150 4x4 pickup for the Maintenance Department. Another bill was for a monthly payment of $21,653 to the University of Texas Medical Branch for contract medical services at the county clinic on Tenth Street.

Flood buyout contracts for $322,450 for 140 Nagel Street, and $81,450 for 195 Loving Drive were also approved to be paid. Those monies come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will buy houses and properties that have repeatedly flooded. The county will have the houses demolished and then the county will own the land.

The buyout process takes several years and County Judge John Gothia said the vacant properties are considered to be in flood zones and no future construction can be built on the lots.

The court renewed a contract with KMY Consultants to monitor the Local First Program for another three months. Commissioners Court worked with the new Chevron Phillips officials to set up the Local First program as part of its tax abatement contract for the new $8.5 billion petrochemical plant under construction.

The Local First Program has included the company setting up a special hiring office, plus having job fairs and contractor fairs for local residents to get jobs and local businesses to get contracts with the corporation.

County Engineer Corey Oldbury asked to get permission to spend $2,000 each for another four new employees to get commercial drivers licenses (CDL) through the LSCO training program. He said it has been hard to hire qualified employees who already have a CDL, which is needed to operate some of the equipment in the county's Road and Bridge Department.

Commissioners said they want to add the CDL training program to Oldbury's budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The court also approved the appointment of Bridge City City Councilor Gina Mannino to the Orange County Economic Corporation board of directors. Mannino will represent the city on the board.


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