BP consultant to stay on another term

Published 6:03 pm Monday, November 28, 2016

BEAUMONT — County Judge Jeff Branick said he is extremely thankful for funds from the BP Deepwater Horizon Restoration Funds for coastal restoration work.

As a result, the Jefferson County Commissioners Court approved an extension of consulting services with attorney Tim Richardson. The period of time is from Oct. 1, 2016 through Sept. 30, 2017. He will be paid $10,500 a month.

Branick said the county previously spent funds on the Chenier Marsh and added freshwater baffles to Keith Lake. The county hopes to receive $4.8 million in funds to place siphons designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore freshwater flows into the Gulf.

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Sand is ready to be dredged on McFaddin Beach that will push the coastline out 400 feet to replace the 360 feet lost to hurricanes.

Branick said the additional 400 feet will put the county back to where it was 100 years ago.

He added that he’s confident the county will get everything it has wanted the past 25 years for coastal restoration.

“I think this is ideal for what the BP resettlement funds were meant to be used for. From an environmental standpoint, I feel we’re where we need to be. This will benefit the Gulf,” he said.

In other county business, the commissioner voted to table awarding engineering services for a Community Development Block Grant Program to LJA Engineering.

Everette “Bo” Alfred, Precinct 4 commissioner, said they are in the latter stages of the project and that Action Civil Engineers of Port Arthur were doing an “outstanding job” and was comfortable to affirm them for the next phase of the grinder pump improvements in the Cheek Community.

Branick asked County Attorney Kathleen Kennedy about the deadline. She said the approval needed to be done soon.

“It’s in the court’s hands, but it does not have to go to the highest ranking proposal,” she said. “It’s been five whole days and we’ve got no response. We can wait one week.”

Branick said he wanted to be sure about the legal justification under the grant or if the county would have to pay the money back under the grant if they awarded it to another company.

Brent Weaver, Precinct 2 commissioner, agreed and said he wanted to make sure all guidelines are followed.

Branick said he was looking at two aspects: one, if it was appropriate with the changes, and two, if there would be trouble with other bidders not going on the point system.

Alfred said he thinks this is best for the citizens of his district.

Lastly, Creative Corrections Education Foundation gave a presentation on their organization. They also requested to be added to a list of organizations for jury donations.

Percy Pitzer, founder and president of the board, said they worked in other parts of the country and discovered there was work to be done in their own community of Beaumont because things were going wrong.

CCEF describes itself as providing education opportunities for young adults generally between the ages of 18-27, who have a parent incarcerated on parole, according to the website.

Pitzer said they currently have 28 students at Lamar Institute of Technology. Likewise, they have invested more than $200,000 in the program.

CCEF would like to offer the opportunity for jurors to donate to the foundation. All of the money collected would stay in the community.

Branick said it has been a great concern to the commissioners the past 10 years the area has had large industrial projects, but there is still a disconnect for the area’s young people and the skills needed for these jobs.

David Ball: 409-721-2427