|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Rededication of courthouse planned June 11
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON – After almost two years and $5.25 million, the restoration of the 97-year-old Trinity County Courthouse is now set to be “substantially complete” on May 30. A rededication ceremony for the redbrick structure is being planned for June 11 and most of the county’s offices are scheduled to be moved back into the building after that date. During Monday’s meeting of the Trinity County Commissioners Court, project architect Michael Gaertner of Galveston said the project is now “in the home stretch.” He noted that while the courthouse will be ready for use on May 30, there will still be some minor work underway in the building and on the grounds after than date. “I’m very pleased with the work. The scaffolding around the exterior of the courthouse has come down and the building looks good,” Gaertner told commissioners. He noted that finishing touches are being made on the interior and that the major items left to be completed include installation of an irrigation system for the lawn, the removal of dead trees and landscaping work. Funded through a $5 million courthouse preservation grant from the Texas Historical Commissioner and $1.6 million in certificates of obligation issued by the county, work on the project got underway in 2009. Under the grant, the state pays for 80 percent of most items, but things such as the removal of dead trees is paid using only local money. During his report to commissioners, Gaertner said that when the project is completed, the county should have about $250,000 in local funds left over. While use of that money is restricted to the renovation project, he indicated there are some related work items that could be paid for using some of the balance. Money left over at the end of the project would then be paid back to help retire the county’s $1.6 million debt. Under the project, the exterior of the three-story courthouse has been restored to as close to its original condition as possible. The project also covered the installation of an elevator connecting all three floors and the first-ever central air and heating system covering the entire building. While interior office spaces are being updated with modern telephone and internet connections, they will look as close to possible as they did when the building was completed in 1914. The project also covered the installation of new plumbing and electrical systems and the complete remodeling of the second-floor district courtroom. Officials have noted in the past that the courtroom is expected to be one of the showpieces of the remodeled building. During his presentation, Gaertner also presented a list of five change orders, but recommended that only four be approved. The one he asked commissioners to reject was for the removal of three dead or dying trees in front of the courthouse. The contractor was asking $10,000 for the work and Gaertner said it would be cheaper for the county to either remove the trees on its own or hire a local contractor. Among the change orders that were approved was the installation of a lawn irrigation system covering not only the courthouse lawn but also the lawns of the adjacent Rock Building and county jail. Cost of the additional work was listed at $15,800. Also approved was the restoration of an historic door uncovered during the interior construction and the replacement of historic ceiling panels over the main entrance to the courthouse. One change order called for the saving of $1,100 in the cost of restoring the old courthouse fireplaces. Gaertner said $8,000 was budgeted for that work but only $6,900 was needed. Road relocation sought During the meeting, commissioners agreed to schedule a public hearing on May 9 concerning the possible relocation of Waltz Road inside the Camp Cullen grounds east of Trinity. Camp Director Len Masengale told commissioners they were asking commissioners to allow them to move the county-owned road from the center to the west side of the camp property. He noted that when the camp’s dining hall burned down on July 19, 2009, the camp has been shut down while YMCA officials revised the facility’s master building plan. “The cabins used by campers are over 35 years old and we had been planning to replace them before the fire occurred,” Masengale said. “After the fire, we went back to the drawing board and added a new dining hall to the plan.” While this was underway, YMCA officials decided they also wanted to try and move the public roadway through the camp. “We would have the boys camping on one side of the road and the girls on the other and any one of 50 sexual offenders registered in this area could be on the road and I couldn’t do anything to stop it,” he said. By moving the public road to the edge of the camp, Masengale said they could erect a fence to keep out unwanted visitors. He noted under the plan, the existing roadway would, for the most part, be maintained as an internal, private camp road. He noted that the YMCA would deed the new road to the county and would pay to build it up to county specifications. The road currently provides access to 12 lake lots on the north side of Camp Cullen and the Trinity Pines Conference Center. Masengale said there are three permanent residents who live in that area. He noted the road they are proposing would be less distance between those lots and FM 356 and would increase the “sight distance” for cars either turning onto or off FM 356. Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: • Rejected a recommendation from County Judge Doug Page to change the county’s delinquent tax collection firm. Page had suggested hiring the Austin law firm of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson but commissioners decided to keep the Austin law firm of Perdue, Branden, Feilder, Collins and Mott. • Held a public hearing on the speed limits on Pinecrest Road south of Trinity. After the hearing, commissioners decided to leave the speed limit at 30 miles per hour on the entire roadway. They had been considering increasing it to 40 mph on the newly paved portion of the road, but after discussion decided the 30 mph would be safer and cause less wear and tear on the new pavement. • Accepted the donation of a 1946 fire truck from the City of Groveton. The antique fire engine was given to the Trinity County Museum. • Scheduled a public hearing for May 9 on the placement of stop signs to create a three-way stop at the intersection of Trinity Cove Drive and Lloyd Bell Road off FM 356. • Authorized road precinct 1, 3 and 4 to sell their 2010 Mack trucks and to obtain new ones. The three precincts have an agreement with East Texas Mack Sales to buy and sell new trucks every 12 to 14 months. • Approved proclamations designating April as National County Government Month and as Child Abuse Prevention Month. • Scheduled a public hearing for May 9 to correct the spelling or change the names of streets and roads on the county’s official road maps. Pct. 2 Commissioner Rich Chamberlin said he has found a number of discrepancies in the names of roads between the county’s official map, the 9-1-1 addressing map and the Texas Department of Transportation’s map. Roads to be addressed include Denman (listed as Demon on the TxDOT map), Clemmons (spelled Clemons on the TxDOT Map), West Pine Valley Drive, Hamilton Street (listed as English on the 9-1-1 map) and Old Huntsville Highway (listed as Old Highway 19 and Old Riverside Highway on various maps). • Declared as salvage six steel tanks located at the Pct. 2 equipment yard and antenna tower located at the Pct. 4 equipment yard. • Reduced the bid cap for 2004 model sheriff patrol car being sold through the Trinity Auction Gallery. The commissioners previously had set a reserve of $1,500 for the car but decided to lower the minimum bid to $500. • Approved a request to bury a water line under the county-owned Old Highway 19 right-of-way from Jerry and Jan Stephens.