WEST ORANGE AND VIDOR – OVER $19 MIL. in FLOOD IMPROVEMENTS TO COME

9.5 million granted by Texas GLO for historic disaster mitigation projects in Orange County Funds to improve drainage infrastructure approved for West Orange and Vidor.

AUSTIN – Today Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Texas Senator Robert Nichols, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, Mayor Randy Branch and Vidor Mayor Pro Tem Misty Songe announce the Texas General Land Office (GLO) approved $19.5 million in flood mitigation projects to improve drainage infrastructure in Orange County and the cities of West Orange and Vidor. These infrastructure projects will directly benefit thousands of residents in a mainly low-to-moderate income (LMI) area that has faced repetitive storm damage in 2015, 2016, 2017 with Hurricane Harvey, and 2019.

“The funding GLO is announcing today is historic,” said Commissioner Bush. “Access to this kind of funding has never been available before to most of the low-to moderate income communities that will be using these funds for systemwide infrastructure improvements that will prevent dangerous flooding and make life better for generations of Texans.”

“In Southeast Texas, storms are exceptionally common and can produce heavy rainfall and flooding that devastates communities,” said Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan. “I want to thank Commissioner George P. Bush for his persistence and steady leadership in securing this funding for Texas communities in need of increased resilience against flooding. He has been a trusted partner throughout this process and we look forward to working together on the second round of funding in the coming months.”

Texas Senator Robert Nichols offered his support from the Texas Capitol saying, “It’s impossible to overstate how important these flood mitigation funds are to East and Southeast Texas. Senate District 3 saw severe flooding during the 2015 floods, the 2016 floods, and again during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. These flooding events showed just how vulnerable this area of the state is and how necessary mitigation efforts are. Senate District 3 won over $105 million in the competitive flood mitigation fund award process because the projects in our region are vital to protecting Texans from future flood events. I appreciate the professionalism of the GLO throughout this process and our local officials who worked so hard to make these projects a reality.”

“Aging infrastructure is one of our greatest challenges when dealing with flooding,” said West Orange Mayor Randy Branch. “From hurricanes, tropical storms and major rain events, our drainage system has been stressed beyond its limits. The funding that we’re receiving today from Commissioner Bush and the GLO allows the city to make improvements to our drainage system that will help us be better prepared for these catastrophic flooding events.”

“Over the last decade, disaster events have flooded Vidor streets and inundated structures, many of which remained submerged for several days, preventing the safe evacuation of residents and resulting in millions of dollars in damages,” said Vidor Mayor Pro Tem Misty Songe. “These funds could not come at a better time as we face additional flooding across our region. By funding this request, Commissioner Bush is helping us to mitigate loss of life, damages to property, suffering, and improve access of emergency vehicles and first responders during future events. We could not be more excited to receive this good news as we respond to yet another storm.”

In May 2020, Commissioner George P. Bush announced the kick-off of the application process for the first round of more than $2.3 billion in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to protect Texas communities hit by Hurricane Harvey and severe flooding in 2015 and 2016. During the first round, the GLO conducted three competitive application programs from the CDBG-MIT Action Plan. Those programs include:

• 2015 Floods State Mitigation Competition – GLO awarded $31,426,781 to four grantees.
• 2016 Floods State Mitigation Competition – GLO awarded 21 grantees with $135,462,438.
• Hurricane Harvey State Mitigation Competition Round 1 ($1 billion of $2,144,776,720 total) .

Applications closed for the first round of funding October 28, 2020, and the GLO evaluated all 290 submitted applications in accordance with the HUD approved scoring criteria. Eligible applications with the highest scores were awarded funds. The second round of the competition will award the remaining $1,144,776,720 in mitigation funding to Hurricane Harvey eligible entities.

HUD defines mitigation as activities that increase resilience to disasters and reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of loss of life, injury, damage to and loss of property, and suffering and hardship, by lessening the impact of future disasters. HUD requires that at least 50% of total funds must be used for activities benefiting low- to moderate-income (LMI) persons.

The State of Texas CDBG Mitigation Action Plan: Building Stronger for a Resilient Future outlines the use of funds, programs, eligible applicants, and eligibility criteria as required by HUD. The plan was sent to HUD on February 3, 2020, after an extraordinary public outreach effort including a 50-day public comment period and eight regional public hearings, far-surpassing HUD requirements. HUD approved the plan March 31, 2020. For more information, please visit recovery.texas.gov/mitigation.

City of West Orange: Citywide Flood and Drainage Improvements Project – $3,790,353 LMI Percentage: 77.24% The project will mitigate loss of life, damages to property, suffering, and improve access of emergency vehicles and first responders during future events. During several named and unnamed flooding events over the last decade, streets have become inundated with floodwaters and remained submerged for several days, preventing the safe evacuation of residents. Additionally, transport of supplies and access by first responders and volunteers has been limited due to the failure of the existing drainage facilities to adequately direct water away from structures and infrastructure.

The improvements will reduce the risk as well as the duration of flooding along city roadways.

Deepening and widening road-side ditches, removing and replacing damaged and undersized driveways and street crossing culverts, hardening existing outfall ditches and installing concrete lining will allow for faster dissipation of flood waters. This will ensure that the residents may safely evacuate and that the supply chain remains open for those unable to do so.

The city of West Orange will improve over 40 different sites throughout the city. The project will provide the following:

1) Regrade/reshape approximately 16,850 linear feet of street ditches
2) Remove and replace culverts for a combined total of approximately 16,851 linear feet
3) Conduct approximately 6,760 linear feet of driveway repairs
4) Reshape/regrade approximately 4,500 linear feet of a collection ditch

5) Line a collection ditch with approximately 4,500 linear feet of concrete

City of Vidor: Citywide Floodwater Detention and Drainage Project – $15,801,291 LMI Percentage: 65.97%.  During several named and unnamed flooding events over the last decade, streets and structures in the city of Vidor have become inundated with floodwaters and remained submerged for several days, preventing the safe evacuation of residents and resulting in millions of dollars in damages. Additionally, transport of supplies and access by first responders and volunteers has been limited due to the failure of the existing drainage facilities to adequately direct water away from structures and infrastructure.
Following these periods of significant rainfall, the drainage system often remains overwhelmed for significant periods of time due to the currently undersized and inadequate drainage structures, causing the ditches to overflow onto the roadways and into adjacent homes.

To mitigate loss of life, damages to property, suffering, and improve access of emergency vehicles and first responders during future events, the city of Vidor will execute the following citywide flood and
drainage improvements:

1) Construct three detention facilities at Tram Road, Conn Park and Orange Street, for a total capacity of 391,700 cubic yards.
2) Ditch improvements at Lyndale Street, Heritage Drive, Lexington Drive, and Concord Street for a total of 2,500 linear feet.
3) Correct roadside culvert sizing and improve culvert crossing at Ferndale Street, Lyndale Street, Heritage Drive, Lamar Street, Lexington Drive, Concord Street, and Orange Street for a total of 2,880 linear feet.
4) Replace storm sewer lines at Orange Street, Lyndale Street, Heritage Drive, and Lamar Street, for a total of 10,300 linear feet.
5) Install roadway at the Tram Road detention pond, Conn Park detention pond, and Orange Road detention pond for a total of 8,800 linear feet and roadway reconstruction at Ferndale Street and Orange Street for a total of 360 linear feet.
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opd weekend report – Family assaults, drugs, break-ins

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ORANGE POLICE REPORT for the weekend unfortunately reflects more family violence, drug possessions, and burglaries in the area, from Friday to Sunday, while thefts from vehicles continue to be an issue along Meeks Drive.

05/21/21
Warrant Service – 40 block Bruce Lane
Public Intoxication – 1000 block Western
Warrant Service – 2800 block W. Park
Misc. – 16th @ I-10
Runaway Juvenile – 201 8th St.
Aggravated Assault, Family, Weapon – 1700 block Sunset Dr.
Aggravated Assault, Family, Strongarm – 2000 block Allie Payne
Aggravated Assault – Weapon – 10th & Burton
Department Activity, Other – 201 8TH ST
Traffic Accident, Vehicle Damage – 7112 IH 10
Assault – Class A Family Violence – 600 block Burton Ave.
Runaway Juvenile – 201 8TH ST
Hit/Run, Vehicle – 1600 block Sunset Dr.

05/22/21
Amphetamine, Possession – Kenwood at Bay
Traffic Accident, Vehicle Damage – 5700 Hwy. 90
Warrant Service – 201 8TH ST
Traffic Accident, Vehicle Damage – 62 AT 10
Burglary, Unforced Entry Nonresidence – 4900 block Oak Valley Dr.
Traffic Accident, Vehicle Damage – Knox & 4th
Warrant Service – Edgar Brown & Foreman
DUI – Drugs 2600 block Allie Payne
Marijuana, Possession – 1300 block Green
Aggravated Assault – Weapon – 7200 block IH 10
Vehicle Theft, Auto – 4700 block Meeks Dr.

5/23/21
Weapons Offenses Other – 3700 block N. 16th St.
Suspicious Activity – 4700 block Oak Valley Dr.
Amphetamine, Possession – 18000 block Hwy. 62 S.
Class A Family Violence – 4030 Sikes
Burglary, Unforced Entry Nonresidence – 2200 block Summer Oak Ln.
DEATH – Unattended Death – 400 block Bluebonnet Rd
Miscellaneous Incidents – 2000 block 10th
Warrant Service – 2300 block MacArthur
Assist Other Agency – 201 8TH ST
Amphetamine, Possession – Byley at Church
Miscellaneous – natural death – 5100 block Twin Oak Dr
Criminal Traffic Violation – IH 10 WB 869
Warrant – Orange Municipal court – 201 8TH ST

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OWNER STILL RECOVERING, WHILE RIVER RISES

ORANGE | 1813 News spoke with Ashley LeBlanc Steiner late this afternoon about her father, Oscar LeBlanc, beloved owner of Bluebird’s Fish Camp.

Now, after his SIXTH surgery, she says he is progressing every day, and the family is hopeful he will WALK out of the hospital when he recovers. But, Ashley says, there will be lots of physical therapy ahead.

Mr. LeBlanc is walking with assistance, she says, but, due to one of his many injuries – to his throat – he cannot yet speak, and there are still no leads as to who shot her father.

The family and Orange police are still asking for help in finding the shooter. 65-year-old Oscar LeBlanc was found with several gunshot wounds when officers responded to the 1800 block of Lincoln Drive around 1:15 a.m. on May 13th.

Police are asking for anyone with surveillance footage at their home near Lincoln Drive to check it and look for anything suspicious and call 409.883.1026.

In the meantime, the Sabine River today is rising right up to Bluebirds, as it as done many times before.

Ashley said, other than someone arrested for shooting her father, what the family needs most is prayers.
(Photos of Bluebird’s taken today 5/19 by Aaron Elms)

BODY PULLED FROM UNDER RAINBOW BRIDGE IDENTIFIED

On May 18th, law enforcement sources have confirmed the body of a man found in the Neches River near Bridge City – is that of 29-year-old Luis Martinez Gonzalez.

Identification was confirmed by the family of Martinez based upon specific clothing and jewelry he was wearing .

An autopsy has been completed but the official report is still pending. HOWEVER, in speaking with an official today, 1813 was told that no foul play is suspected in Martinez’s death, and it appears that he may have drowned.

The Tennessee man had been reported missing April 26, found again in Lumberton during a traffic stop on April 28, and released. The community of Bridge City and surrounding areas organized search efforts, in cooperation with his family, to find him.

Martinez’s vehicle and personal identification had been located just off Bailey’s Camp Road in Bridge City on April 29th, and a body was found May 3rd under the Rainbow Bridge.

Mr. Martinez’s body has been released to his loved ones.

CAR INCINERATED ON MACARTHUR DRIVE

A local woman’s car burst into flames around 4:45 Sunday afternoon on MacArthur Drive, near Strickland.

Brittiany Wolfe was driving her 2013 Kia Soul as part of her job as a Doordash delivery driver when it suddenly began to smoke and then burst into flames.

Luckily, Wolfe is unharmed, but the vehicle was a total loss.

“I had enough time to get my purse and get out of it before it was completely engulfed,” Wolfe said, estimating that it was only seconds between when the vehicle began to smoke and when the fire erupted. Although she was insured, Ms. Wolfe said there were thousands of dollars of items in the SUV, and there had been no issues previously with the vehicle.

RUNAWAYS, ASSAULTS & THEFTS – OPD REPORT 5/14 – 5/16

Unfortunately it was another BUSY weekend for Orange Police.

05/14/21

DAMAGED PROPERTY – Vehicle – 4000 block of Sikes
BURGLARY – Forced Entry (Nonresidence) – 400 block 37th St.
DAMAGED PROPERTY – Vehicle – 400 block 16th St.
RUNAWAY JUVENILE – 3000 block Cosmos St.
THEFT – Other – 1300 block Park Ave.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT – Vehicle Damage – 3100 block 16th St.
MISC. Warrant – Orange County – 2800 block Enner Rd.

05/15/21 –

UNAUTHORIZED USE VEHICLE – (Joy riding) – 800 block 3rd St.
CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE – (Amphetamine Possession) – IH10 EB AT MLK
RUNAWAY JUVENILE – 201 8TH ST
NON UCR REPORTABLE – 1900 Block International
ASSAULT – (Class A Family Violence) – 2300 block Pacific St.
MISC. WARRANT- Orange Co. – 200 block W. Dewey PROCESS SERVICE – Warrant – 201 8TH ST
ASSAULT – Aggravated, Nonfamily, Weapon – 2100 block 8th St.

05/16/21

MISC. WARRANT – Other county -18000 block Hwy. 62
PROCESS SERVICE – Warrant – 200 block Border
STOLEN VEHICLE – (Joy riding) 2900 block 16th St.
MISC INCIDENTS – 2900 block 16th St.
SEXUAL OFFENSE – Carpenters Pl.
STOLEN VEHICLE – 2600 block IH 10
PROCESS SERVICE – Warrant – 7000 block Hwy. 12
MISC- 2400 block MacArthur
THEFT – Other – 1000 block Bancroft St.
RUNAWAY JUVENILE – 800 block 3rd St..

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BELOVED FISH CAMP OWNER SHOT

ORANGE | OVERNIGHT SHOOTING | FISH CAMP OWNER HOSPITALIZED

DO YOU HAVE A HOME OR BUSINESS ON LINCOLN DR?
Orange PD NEEDS YOUR HELP!

On May 13, 2021 at 1:12 am, Orange PD officers were dispatched to the 1800 blk of Lincoln Dr. about a gunshot victim. Officers arrived and located Mr. Oscar Joseph LeBlanc in his back yard with several gunshot wounds.

Mr. LeBlanc was conscious and alert, and was was transported to a Beaumont hospital before being transferred to a Houston hospital, where he is still in surgery.

Orange PD is asking for help from the public. Orange PD is asking anyone that lives or has a business around Lincoln Dr. to check their security cameras for anything suspicious between12:00 (midnight) and 1:30 am on May 13, 2021. Please contact the Orange Police Department at 409-883-1026 or 409-883-1095 if anything is located.   The public can also contact Crime Stoppers at 409-833-TIPS.

VIDOR COUPLE ARRESTED IN DRUG RAID

VIDOR DRUG BUST | On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, The Orange County Narcotics Division, with the assistance of the Orange County SWAT Team, the Vidor Police Department and the Jasper County Precinct 6 Constable’s Office, executed a search and arrest warrant in the 1400 Block of Orange Street, Vidor, Orange County, Texas.

This search warrant was obtained after a lengthy investigation into the distribution of methamphetamine in the Vidor, Texas area.

Approximately ½ pound of methamphetamine was found inside of the residence.

After the investigation, Aaron Leonard Dixon was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance Penalty Group 1 – > 200 grams < 400 grams which is a 1st degree felony. A second occupant, Heather Elizabeth Wood, was found to be in possession of ¼ of an ounce of methamphetamine and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance Penalty Group 1 – > 4 grams < 200 grams which is a 2nd degree felony. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank everyone with their assistance in this investigation. (From press release)  

BRIDGE CITY DRUG BUST

BRIDGE CITY DRUG BUST | Yesterday, authorities confiscated a large amount of methamphetamine, along with several firearms at a residence in Bridge City.

On 05/12/2021, the Orange Regional Tactical Response Team executed an evidentiary search warrant at 1101 Bernice , in reference to narcotics being sold from the residence.
Two people were taken into custody – Ory Henry, 27, was arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
Rachel Morgan, 29, was arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance.
This was a joint investigation conducted by the City of Orange Narcotic Division, West Orange Police Department and the Bridge City Police Department.