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County applies for port security funding for Sabine Pass projects



By Sherry Koonce

The News staff writer

BEAUMONT — County Commissioners authorized application for $2.6 million in American Reconstruction and Recovery Act/Port Security Grant funding.

If received, the grant will fund an expanded Sheriff’s Office Marine Operations Center. New Sabine Pass offices and docks would be constructed in Sabine Pass.

The grant would not require a local match, said Ron Hobbs, deputy chief over the Sheriff’s Narcotics and Marine Division.

The marine division has temporary docks in Beaumont and Port Arthur and offices at the Southeast Texas Regional Airport, but needs a stronger presence in Sabine Pass, Hobbs said.

If received, the grant would allow easier access to the Sabine Pass area.

For the past several years, the county has been building a marine division to provide security for critical infrastructure, shipping refineries, LNG terminals and LNG ships.

The goal, Hobbs said, is to keep the small Beaumont dock, and to operate out of the Sabine Pass facility 24-hours a day.

Having a presence in Sabine Pass would be a time saver since the distance from end of the ship channel to the terminal in Beaumont is 70-miles one way, he said.

Hobbs said given the large amount of traffic along the Sabine-Neches Waterway, it is just as important to provide maritime security as it is to patrol area highways.

In other business, a forecast calling for little rain and high temperatures prompted the Commissioners to continue the burn ban enacted a week ago.

Jefferson County is among the 128 Texas counties with a burn ban including Jasper, Orange, Liberty, Chambers and Hardin counties.

Though the ban does not prohibit the use of fireworks, Commissioners urged Southeast Texas to be extra cautious this Fourth of July weekend.

According to the National Weather Service’s Lake Charles office the next good chance of rain is Thursday when there is a 40 percent chance a showers and thunderstorms in the local forecast.