, Port Arthur, Texas

July 25, 2011

County not ready to write off Nutty Jerry’s owner

Law firm to review tax laws related to Ford Park

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News


There may still be a chance that a Winnie businessman could bring entertainment acts to Ford Park Arena even though his request last week was denied.

County Commissioner’s at their regular meeting Monday approved the hiring of Vinson & Elkins Law Firm. The firm will review Ford Park documents, compliance with federal regulations and provide advice regarding contractual structuring.

County Judge Jeff Branick said the move was in response to a request made by Jerry Nelson, the owner of Nutty Jerry’s, an entertainment complex in Winnie.

 Nelson has indicated he would like to enter into an exclusive contract with the county to book events at Ford Park Amphitheater.

At the time of Nelson’s request, Branick said he believed that because Nelson is a private business owner, county tax laws prevent him from booking acts at Ford Park.

At a July 18 press conference , Nelson said he wanted to book at least three shows that had the potential to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It is a good thing to go back and look at this,” Branick said Monday. “The main thrust for us taking this step is to determine whether we can legally enter into a contract with Mr. Nelson for promoting the amphitheater.”

Branick said the county could not go out and buy acts to come in like private business can.

“In my estimation it would be a good thing if Mr. Nelson could do this,” Branick said.

In other matters, Commissioners named Alex Rupp as interim director for the Jack Brooks Regional Airport.

Rupp starts Aug. 1 after current director Hall Ross retires.

Rupp is currently employed by the airport as financial analyst and is responsible for grants administration.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Brent Weaver said the position is temporary, lasting only until a new director is hired in a couple of weeks.

For contract purposes, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that there be an administrator’s name on the contact list.

“This will make for a smooth transition,” Weaver said.