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Governor Abbott Appoints Three To Sabine River Authority Board Of Directors

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Governor Greg Abbott has appointed James W. “Bill” Bruce and reappointed Thomas Beall and Cliff Todd to the Sabine River Authority Board of Directors for terms set to expire July 6, 2029. The purpose of the Sabine River Authority is to conserve, store, control, preserve, utilize, and distribute the storm and flood waters and the waters of the Sabine River and its tributaries.

James W. “Bill” Bruce of Orange is the general manager for the Moore Odom Wildlife Foundation, Inc. and the FR Ranches of Texas and Louisiana. He is on the board of directors of Duphill, Inc. and Bridge City State Bank and is a member of Ducks Unlimited, Cutting Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association, and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association.

Thomas Beall of Milam is the president of Beall’s Furniture, Inc. and the owner of Cimarron Equipment. Additionally, he is owner of Red Hill Ranch Cattle and the former owner and manager of several Ashley Furniture Home Stores. He has served on the Hemphill Independent School District Board for 15 years and is a current board member for First State Bank in Hemphill. Beall received an associate degree in management from Tyler Junior College.

Cliff Todd of Long Branch manages the assets of his farm and ranch operations in Panola County and is executive vice president for Topcat Oilfield Services. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the UT Health Hospital of Carthage Governing Board. He is a commissioner with the Emergency Services District for Panola County, president of the East Texas Gas Producers Association, and a director for the Panola County Chamber of Commerce. He is a former member of the Austin and Carthage Rotary Clubs and a member and deacon of Central Baptist Church of Carthage, where he is a longtime adult Sunday school teacher. Todd received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Stephen F. Austin State University.

City of Orange Fuels Business Boom with EDC Grants

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The City of Orange is actively promoting business expansion and development through the Orange Economic Development Corporation (EDC) grants. Since the year 2020, city officials have invested nearly $5 million in these grants to attract and support new businesses within the community.

The EDC committee plays a pivotal role in distributing these grants, financed by a fraction of the city’s 8.25% sales tax revenue. The funds are primarily utilized to reimburse developers for crucial infrastructure expenses, making Orange unique in Orange County for its EDC initiatives.

According to Kelvin Knauf, the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Orange, “Since December of 2020, there’s been 31 new businesses and developments that have received economic development cooperation grants.” These grants allow companies looking to establish themselves in Orange to cover upfront infrastructure costs, which are subsequently reimbursed by the city.

Knauf explained, “They assess the site to determine their preferred location and anticipate potential permanent expenses such as extending water and sewer lines, and drainage improvements.” Notably, 10 of these businesses have chosen to set up shop along North 16th Street, including a forthcoming Whataburger and Take 5 car wash.

Residents like Giron Hadnott, who was shopping at the new Dollar General nearby, express their support for these developments. Hadnott believes, “It’s good for the economy, it creates jobs, and it keeps the money rolling.”

Furthermore, the EDC grants have contributed to the creation of two new subdivisions, namely, Little Cypress Grove Residential and The Reserve at Mallard Lakes in the Little Cypress community. Knauf emphasized, “It re-develops areas that were kind of run down, increases property taxes, boosts sales taxes, and enhances the quality of life for our residents.”

As Orange witnesses these transformative changes, local residents like Hadnott see the broader benefits. “As long as you have improvement for the cities, not just here but Pinehurst, Bridge City, all those surrounding areas Little Cypress, everybody should be for it,” Hadnott affirmed.

According to Knauf, more projects are on the horizon for North 16th Street, with plans for a new retail shopping center called “The Shops of Orange” set to break ground in the near future. The City of Orange continues to pave the way for economic growth and development, showcasing its commitment to fostering a thriving community.

Warming Station Opens in Orange

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Due to the forecasted cold weather, Orange County has partnered with the Red Cross and Orange Church of God in Orange to provide a warming station starting Monday, January 15, 2024, and Tuesday, January 16, 2024, from 5 pm to 8 am at Orange Church of God Embassy of Grace, 1911 North 16th Street, Orange, Texas 77630.

A warming station is a short-term emergency shelter that operates when temperatures, or a combination of precipitation and wind chill, become dangerously inclement. Their paramount purpose is preventing death and injury from exposure to the elements.

Bridge City Announces New City Manager

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At their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 2, the Bridge City City Council unanimously appointed Christopher Baker as their next city manager.  Mr. Baker was selected from twenty-four (24) applicants, including four finalists.  Mr. Baker will officially start on January 15.  Leading the search process was Slavin Management Consultants, Norcross, Georgia, a nationally renowned local government executive search firm specializing in assisting local governments find their next Chief Executive Officer.

Baker brings twenty-seven years of experience in local government, most recently as the Development Services Director in Goodyear, Arizona (population 112,000), where he oversaw substantial growth of the City as one of the Phoenix metropolitan area’s fastest-growing suburbs.  He has extensive experience in economic development, transportation, land use planning, and public works.  As an Alabama Gulf Coast native, where he spent much of his professional career, Baker and his family look forward to returning to the southeast.  “I am excited to join a visionary City Council and work with a talented staff team at Bridge City.  Elizabeth and I are also happy to return to this part of the country and to be near family”

Mayor David Rutledge said, “After an extensive search process, the City Council is very happy to welcome Mr. Baker and his family to Bridge City.  He has tremendous experience in both the public and private sectors, advancing solutions important to local government.  He has a significant understanding of the issues facing coastal communities and looks forward to learning more about the priorities of the Council and the citizens of Bridge City.  We look forward to working with him and getting to work on addressing the problems and getting to work on addressing the priorities of the community.”

Mayor Rutledge further stated, “Mr. Baker is a successful leader who has managed large staffs, some larger than that in Bridge City.  His past working experience in the Gulf Coast region and exhibiting leadership in the areas of interest by the City Council were important considerations for us.”

Bridge City citizens, other city and county officials, and members of the press are invited to the City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, at 6:00 pm for a reception to officially welcome Mr. Baker to Bridge City.


New Executive Director Hired at Orange Housing Authority

in Government

The Orange Housing Authority announces a new chapter in its journey with the hiring of Sheryl Ford as the Executive Director of the City of Orange Housing Authority.

Ford brings a wealth of experience and a passion for community development that aligns perfectly with the OHA mission to provide safe, affordable housing for all. Her leadership and dedication will undoubtedly contribute to the organization’s continued success and growth.


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