Little League mentor honored by city

Published 6:11 pm Friday, March 3, 2017

A Port Arthur man who mentors youth through the Port Arthur Little League was recognized by the city of Port Arthur.

Feb. 28 was proclaimed as Minister Dwight Fobbs Day by Mayor Derrick Freeman and the Port Arthur City Council at their regular meeting on Feb. 28.

The proclamation read every weekend during Little League baseball season little boys fill the home of their coach and president of the Port Arthur American Little League, Inc., Fobbs.

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“He’s passionate about the sport, but moreover, he has a genuine concern for the young men whose lives he impacts,” it reads. “He becomes a surrogate father to them for four to six months of the year. From transporting players to and from the baseball games, to cooking chili, to mopping concession stand floors, he does it all.”

Fobbs invited the council to opening day on March 25. Many councilmembers said they will be there. Fobbs also encouraged them to become active in the league throughout the season.

PALL needs a new fence erected so children won’t run into the streets. He estimates the fence will cost $3,200.

A T-ball field needs to be built, too.

Fobbs said Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation funds to the PALL have been cut.

Willie “Bae” Lewis Jr., District 5 councilman, said the federal government has dropped some of its Community Development Block Grants and they’re currently funding only 15 percent of programs like Little League.

City Attorney Val Tizeno said the city council can adopt the Port Arthur Little League and legally budget funds.

Lewis said many on the council are up for reelection in May and they can use their campaign donations to give to the PALL and he has done with Pop Warner Football in the past.

“They’ll be getting a lot of money,” he said.

Deborah Welch, Glenn Lee, and Mary Owens presented to the council how they would like to get the 2017 Southeast Texas Springfest started.

The Springfest would be held Easter weekend on April 14-16 at the Pavilion downtown. Different organizations would be invited to participate in the one-day activity.

The organizers said there will be food, fun, a carnival, music and more. There will also be a Saturday parade.

Tiffany Hamilton, District 2 councilwoman, asked if there would be transportation provided to get the children to the Springfest. The organizers said they haven’t made those kind of arrangements, but they’re meeting every Thursday to plan the event.

City Manager Brian McDougal said the city would be happy to work with the organizers.

The council also approved some public works projects.

The first was a contract with Statewide Traffic Signal Company of Houston for a traffic signal and roadway improvements at Ninth Avenue and Lake Arthur Drive in the amount of $403,310. Funding is available in the city streets account.

The streetlights will be a joint project between the city and Entergy. The posts will be decorative poles with radar detection devices, pedestrian crossings and intersection modifications.

Rawetts Baaheth, assistant city engineer, said plans for the intersection started in 2012. In 2013 an engineering firm was hired for a work-study. Statewide Traffic Signal Co. met the criteria as a bidder.

Baaheth said the holdup for the project was getting funding which they now have.

“It will be a brand new system. There will be lighted signs too,” he said. “This will be the first intersection we’ll start to serve as a model.”

A contract was approved with Long Architecture of Beaumont for professional project design and construction phase services for the city-owned structure at 246 Dallas Ave. for $144,290.

The building will be the Department of Development Services that will be a one-stop building permitting office. Funding is available in planning and development/building improvement accounts.

Keith Richard, District 4 councilman, said he was concerned about the high cost and the city needed to pay more attention in the bidding process.

Ron Burton, planning and zoning director, said the first time there was no bid and Long was the sole bidder the second time around.

“I’m not optimistic we would get more bids,” Burton said. “However, we want as many bids as possible.”

Richard said it was too late to change things now, but as a contractor he was leery of paying $144,290 in architectural costs.

Burton said the bid was well within the percentage of the association of architects’ requirements. He added that $46,000 was trimmed from the bid with some of the work done by city staff.

Burton said the building was 14,000 square feet.

Richard said he needed more convincing.

Tizeno said Long is not only doing the architectural work, but the construction management as well and the costs were not separated.

Richard said he would like to have the costs separated.

A contract with LMC Corp. of Houston was approved for the renovation of the First Floor Annex Building for $172,009. Funding is available in the utility operations account.

Osman Swati, District 6 councilman, asked what are the plans for the annex building since 50 people were moving to the one-stop permitting office. Particularly he wondered why the city was spending money for bulletproof windows for the annex building.

McDougal said two-thirds of the business done there is in the paying of water bills and cash transactions why added security is needed. The renovation has been in the plans for two years.

Jimmie Johnson, assistant city manager of operations, said there will also be additional space for the utilities department. Additionally, disabled residents will now be able to come up to the teller’s window.

Swati asked if there were security risks.

Johnson said one resident showed a pistol to a teller to get their bill adjusted. Also, people get very angry. Some have entered through the back door or have walked into offices.

McDougal said there have been several situations where the Port Arthur Police Department has been called out.

Hamilton said the security for the entire building needs upgrading.

“We need to protect our employees,” said Charlotte Moses, Position 7 councilwoman.


David Ball: 409-721-2427