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Changes in store for Orange County
[February 26, 2013]

Changes in store for Orange County

ORANGE, Feb 26, 2013 (The Orange Leader - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The State side of construction for the new Orange County Convention and Expo are in the final stages and expected to make substantial completion this week.

A new generator suffered from a manufacturing defect when it was tested recently. The defect caused major damage to the generator which is scheduled to be replaced this week for the center.

The FM 299 Relief Route project was discussed after the court received a letter recently.

"We do not have the $30 million for the project," County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said. "We are not going to make this a bond issue either.

Commissioner pct. 4 Jody Crump suggested considering the option of creating a Regional Mobility Authority (RMA).

"I read this letter as saying do it now or go home," Thibodeaux said.

P.E. District Engineer Tucker Ferguson said the letter was to help get the project back on track.

The agreement for the project was authorized in 2011.

"I am not against the road," Thibodeaux said. "I am against the county putting the up the money up front." Ferguson said the possibility of the county forming an RMA would satisfy the requirements for the project at this time.

"We want to protect the funding," Thibodeaux said. "We need to work out details and have a plan of action before we proceed." A RMA is a local, independent transportation agency that can finance, build, operate and maintain toll roads and other transportation projects.

Mosquito Control Director Patrick Beebe said new FCC narrow band requirements has eliminated the sue of the current radios the department uses.

The radio equipment has been used for 20 plus years and while programmable, they cannot be programed to the range required by new mandates.

Regulations require the department stays in contact with ground crews to give verification prior to spraying.

Beebe said the new equipment would cost $7,500 and could last 10-15 years. The other options he provided was issuing cell phones out when the drivers left and checking the phones back in after the shift. The cost for the cell phones would be approximately $3,920 for the next seven months.

"I make the motion," Commissioner pct. 1 David Dubose said. "Or we are left with mosquitos making the communications." Commissioner pct. 3 John Banken asked about giving up the vehicle budgeted in Capital Outlay to pay for the radio and equipment.

Beebe said the same problems with the vehicle were still there.

"It is ten years old, with 152,000 miles, the bearings are going," Beebe said. "And the second gear is still gone." Thibodeaux said during the budget hearings that the truck had low stead miles on it. Mileage which wears on the truck differently than normal driving.

The county auditor noted the department has spent less on chemicals so far this year than at the same time last year. More funds were left in the chemical budget for the current fiscal year due to new requirements for chemicals.

Thibodeaux suggested taking the funds for the radio out of the chemical budget for now to leave the funds for the truck in the budget.

"I promise you, none of us want to get slapped with mosquitoes," Dubose said.

"Or have our phones light up," Crump said.

___ (c)2013 The Orange Leader (Orange, Texas) Visit The Orange Leader (Orange, Texas) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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