|Corrigan Times - Local News
Copyright 2014 - Polk County Publishing Company
Clerk to move temporarilly out of courthouse
LIVINGSTON – With construction on a new elevator now underway in the Polk County Courthouse, county commissioners approved a request Friday to temporarily move the county clerk's records division out of the building and into the judicial center. County Clerk Schelana Walker told commissioners that noise from the elevator construction was causing problems in the courthouse offi ces. "My clerks are having a hard time hearing people on the telephone," she said. Under the plan approved by commissioners, while the elevator work is underway the clerk's records division will move into the judicial center's break room. The clerk already has offi ces and staff located on the second fl oor of the judicial center. The new elevator is being built inside the courthouse to replace the aging one that was added to the outside of the building back in the 1970s. The work is being partially funded by a $339,000 emergency courthouse restoration grant from the Texas Historical Commission (THC). When engineering and other costs are added, the fi nal cost of the elevator will be over $1 million. CETRZ program During the meeting, commissioners briefl y discussed the County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone (CETRZ) program and scheduled a special meeting for 10 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 3, to go into more detail. In order to obtain $448,000 in special road construction funds from the Texas Department of Transportation, the county is being required to create at least one CETRZ. When an area is designated as a CETRZ, any increase in tax revenue generated in the zone is automatically earmarked for road and bridge work. According to Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet, he and Pct. 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis will recommend on Monday that a small 160-acre tract in northeast Polk County be designated as the CETRZ. "Its all timberland with a county road running through it," he said after Friday's meeting. "This will give us an opportunity to qualify for the road funds and see how the CERTZ program actually works." Overstreet said the commissioners could come back later and either expand the zone or create more if they decide it would be a benefi t to the county. The current TxDOT funding program was initially proposed in the legislature to help out West Texas counties whose roads were being destroyed by the oil and gas company trucks. It was eventually expanded with all Texas counties being allocated some money but they each have to apply and they all must create a CETRZ. Because some counties are not expected to apply for the funds, offi cials have indicated any unused money will be divided among the counties that did take part in the program, which would mean Polk County's share could climb above the current $448,000 mark. Once they receive the money, the county can use it on any road and bridge project anywhere in the county as long as they included the project in the grant application. During a meeting in January, commissioners were advised to include as many projects as possible in the application so if they do receive additional funding, they could put it to use. "I may get a little over $100,000 to spend in my precinct but I've come up with well over $1 million in projects," Overstreet said, addition the other commissioners are doing the same. During Monday's meeting, commissioners are expected to formally create the CETRZ and name an advisory committee of local citizens to help with the program. Courthouse roof In other discussion Friday, commissioner approved a plan to apply for a 2014 THC emergency courthouse restoration grant to replace the roof on the courthouse. County Judge John Thompson explained that under the THC program, grants of up to $450,000 will be available to counties to handle emergencies. This is the same program that partially funded the replacement elevator in 2013. The judge noted the existing roof is well over 20 years old and needs to be replaced. "This is a 50-50 grant so we'll have to match it dollar for dol-lar. Its still would be better to pay 50 percent of the cost as opposed to 100 percent," he said. Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: -- Learned that additional grant money to finish work at the old Dunbar school gym in Livingston has been "verbally approved" and that the county is now waiting for the paperwork to arrive. -- Approved going out for bids for 10 new sheriff's department vehicle, one new vehicle for the Office of Emergency Management and a new equipment van for the county maintenance department. They also approved a plan to transfer some of the old sheriff's vehicles to other county departments rather than trade them in for the new vehicles.