Councilwoman would like to see more street funding from industry

Published 5:17 pm Monday, February 20, 2017

The first half of the community meeting with Charlotte Moses, Port Arthur City Council Position 7 councilwoman, on Feb. 18 was about streets in the city.

The second half of the meeting involved discussions over industrial district agreements, security matters in the city and the Explorer program —the program gives insights into police, fire and EMS careers. It is opened to boys and girls.

Moses said the city gets more than $30 million from refineries through industrial district agreements. She added that it’s a continuing process and the last agreement has been extended by a year.

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“This is a huge, huge deal for the city. It’s lots of money, but we shouldn’t have to do a street bond,” she said. “Look at Baytown. They don’t have to worry about streets. The refineries pay 100 percent for them and we have more refineries than they do.”

“I know it’s a sensitive issue. We deserve 100 percent or close to it. That way we wouldn’t have to wait 20 years to fix the streets. The city deserves it.”

Moses said she also visited the Woodlands and she thinks downtown Port Arthur could be like that city with their trees lit up, a city square, shopping and eateries.

The discussion then switched to security and specifically about the recent shootings at Prince Hall Apartments.

Moses said management should be held accountable.

Mark Blanton, former Port Arthur police chief and candidate for the District 3 city council seat, said if management allows misbehavior, it only makes matters worse. He added that tenants must be dealt with to follow the rules and outsiders held accountable or management may have to go to court over violations.

“It only takes a handful to give an area a bad name,” Blanton said. “Police can’t sit out there 24/7. It’s the management responsibility.”

Moses said management should be policing who comes in to the complex. She said another issue is that tenants could not be evicted because of the judicial system.

“We need to find a way to evict them. We’re not here to babysit,” Moses said.

Lastly, Moses said she got the idea for the Explorer program for Port Arthur after she attended a National League of Cities workshop in Philadelphia, Pa.

Students can come out of high school with jobs with either the police, fire or as an EMT.

Larry Richard, Port Arthur fire chief, said the departments have tried before to get a local program established where students can get certified and pass their state service test.

Acadian Ambulance Service also has experience with the Explorer program.

“It’s a path to employment,” he said.

Richard said the Boy Scouts of America Three Rivers Council conducted a survey at Memorial High School and found 272 students are interested in the Explorer program.

The challenge is to determine how to raise funds to get the program started by the fall semester.

Blanton said there have been Explorer programs off and on the last 40 years in the city. Then, everyone had to dig into their own pockets to support it.

He asked if the city would be willing to support the program.

Richard said the Explorer could be a conduit to the departments and maybe furnish scholarships to the academies.

“We could have our pick of the cream of the crop,” he said.

Keith Richard, District 4 councilman, said he enrolled in a similar program when he was a boy and he built relationships with police officers who guided him through the program.

In fact, he wanted to be a police officer.

He was curious if Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation funds could be used for the program.

“I wish the city could fund this,” he said.

David Ball: 409-721-2427