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Trinity Standard - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company

Courthouse completion set for mid-April
Trinity Standard -

GROVETON – The completion date for the Trinity County Courthouse renovations was pushed back once again this week and is now listed as mid-April. During Monday’s meeting of the Trinity County Commissioners Court, project architect Michael Gaertner of Galveston said the latest delay was caused by the recent rains and freezing weather recorded since Jan. 1. The bad weather prevented crews from finishing work on the outside of the courthouse. “The building is now weatherproof and water tight so work has been able to continue on the inside,” he said. Following the meeting, Gaertner took commissioners and other county officials on a tour of the courthouse to examine the $5.2 million restoration project. In his report, he told commissioners the heating and air conditioning system has been up and running for the past month. “Before we turned it on, we had to do an extensive cleanup inside the courthouse. We wanted to remove all the dust created during construction,” he said. He noted that had the dust not been removed, it could have clogged the heating system’s filters and possibly damaged the system. The central air and heat system now in operation replaces window air conditioning units and space heaters used in most areas of the old building in the past. Another major upgrade that is all but complete is a new elevator that connects all three of the courthouse floors. The elevator will not be put into service until the building is almost ready to occupy. Inside the building, construction that remains includes woodwork, painting and the installation of historic lighting fixtures. The painting to be done will be designed to match the original interior colors used when the courthouse was completed in 1915. The architect noted they have scraped down to the original paint layers and then specialists have studied the samples under microscopes to pinpoint the colors. “We are now in the process of matching those colors to modern paint,” he said. Gaertner noted that when complete, the courthouse interior will “be more colorful” than people today are accustomed to seeing. “That is the way they did things back when the courthouse was built,” he said. While the date the courthouse will be ready for use is now projected for mid-April, Gaertner said it would probably be one or two weeks after that date before the county begins to move back into the building. “Typically, once construction is completed, there will be things that the county officials will want to have done before they move back in,” he said. Installation of shelves, curtains or blinds were among the things indicated. In addition, because no carpeting is included in the project, some officials might elect to obtain throw rugs before moving in their furniture. County Clerk Diane McCrory questioned Gaertner about the possibility of paying for a set of record bookshelves under the courthouse grant . Under a $5 million Courthouse Preservation Grant funded by the Texas Historical Commission, 85 percent of the renovation work is paid for by the state. The county also issued $1.6 million in certificates of obligation to cover their 15 percent share. Gaertner told McCrory the grant would not provide funds for anything that is not attached to the building. Furniture and shelves will have to be paid for using county funds only. “However, because the overall cost of the project came in so much below what was expected, we should have enough funds left from the county’s $1.6 million to cover things like that,” the architect said. The shelves McCrory is seeking cost almost $28,000 and would be able to hold up to 1,280 of the county clerk’s record books. She noted the county currently has two antique shelves that she will continue to use that store 240 and 40 books respectively. “If we can get this new shelving system, it would give us enough space for all our books plus room to grow in the future,” McCrory said. Gaertner said he would get with County Auditor Sheila Johnson in the coming weeks to run a cash flow projection for the project and would have a figure on how much of the $1.6 million would be left at the end of the project. He indicated he would present that information to commissioners at their March 14 meeting.


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