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Stories Added - January 2009
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County seeks bids for courthouse work
Trinity Standard - January 2009
GROVETON – Renovation work on the Trinity County Courthouse moved one step closer Monday, when county commissioners voted to begin advertising for bids on the project.
The bid ads are expected to be posted next week and the proposals from contractors will be opened on Feb. 24.
During Monday’s meeting of the commissioners, project architect Michael Gaertner of Galveston said the construction plans were now “99.9% complete” and the remaining issues could be taken care of during the renovation.
One of the issues that has developed are changes to doors being sought by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
“We have a new representative from the first marshal’s office looking at the project and he has contradicted decisions made by his predecessor,” Gaertner said.
“This is something that will have to be worked out between the fire marshal and the Texas Historical Commission,” he said.
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) is providing $5 million of the $6.6 million in the renovation project’s budget and is seeking to restore the 1914 courthouse to as close to its original appearance as possible.
Another issue that has developed deals with a vault door in the old county clerk’s office, which is currently used by County Attorney Joe W. Bell.
The architect said THC wants to replace the door, which is believed to have been removed in 1982. The problems is that no one has been found who knows what was done with the original door so a replacement will have to be made.
Gaertner told the commissioners that only a door that has the appearance of a vault door is needed and a replica door could be obtained. While made of metal, the replica would not be as thick or as heavy as the original door.
In the discussion with Gaertner, County Judge Mark Evans said the county would begin moving out of the courthouse be mid to late February and would be moved into the temporary office space located across the street by mid-March.
Actual construction on the courthouse restoration project is set to get underway in April.
Included in the work, which is expected to take between 14 and 18 months, is the installation of an elevator, new electrical and plumbing systems, a central air and heating system and the restoration of the building’s exterior to its 1914 appearance.
Interior officers also will be renovated and the hallways and the second-floor district courtroom will be restored to their original appearance.
In addition, handicapped accessible restrooms will be installed.
With the county offices set to move across the street during the renovation, commissioners formally designated the buildings at 323 W. Front Street in Groveton as Auxiliary Courthouse and as the alternative meeting site for the commissioners’ court. This action will allow the temporary offices to be used by both the district and county courts.
As part of the order approved Monday, the 323 W. Front offices also were designated as a courthouse annex. This will allow all or part of the office space to be used by the county after the courthouse is reopened.
Evans explained that after the courthouse is completed, THC wants the county clerk’s office to be returned to the courthouse. County Clerk Diane McCrory’s offices have been located in the old ETMC building in downtown Groveton for the past two years.
If McCory’s department is moved back into the courthouse, Evans noted that another department will have to move out.
He noted that much of the space now used by the county tax assessor-collector’s office will be used for the new elevator so that space will not be large enough for that office once the renovation is complete.
“We may want to keep the tax assessor’s office across the street after the courthouse is completed,” Evans said, adding that the building’s designation as a courthouse annex would allow the county to make that change.
“We won’t have to decide what to do right now. This just gives us the flexibility to keep that office or another office over there,” he said.
In other action related to the renovation project, the commissioners selected a building committee. Named to the panel were Evans, County Auditor Sheila Johnson, Pct. 2 Commissioner Jannette Hortman and Chairman Susanne Waller of the Trinity County Historical Commission.
Among the duties of the committee will be to help score the bids, check contractor references and make a recommendation to the commissioners court.
The group also will select a project manager who will work with the architect and contractor.
During the meeting, commissioners also:
• Approved the purchase of two new vehicles for the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department to replace two destroyed last year in accidents. The Ford F-150 pickups are being purchased from Philpott Ford of Nederland at a cost of $28,368. The cost includes radios and other police equipment.
• Authorized the purchase of vehicle for both Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace and Pct. 2 Constable Robert Sterling Johnson at a price not to exceed $28,368 each. Commissioners indicated the constables could select a Ford F-150 like the sheriff was buying or a Crown Victoria patrol car.
• Voted to sell two old sheriff’s vehicles to the high bidder, the Lowe Brothers of Corrigan. A 2002 Ford four-door pickup was sold for $2,155 and a 2004 Dodge four-door pickup which had been stripped of some parts was sold for $1,155.
• Approved an agreement with Montgomery County to use the juvenile detention facilities there. Jean LeBlanc, director of the juvenile probation department, noted that the cost per day of housing a juvenile at the facility was increasing from $80 to $90 but was still less than the $100-110 cost at other area juvenile detention centers.
• Held a public hearing on the Twin Oaks subdivision being developed off Pinecrest Road south of Trinity. Hortman requested improvements to the subdivision road surface and drainage before the plat is approved. Developers agreed to make the changes and meet with the commissioners again at their Feb. 9 meeting.
• Ratified a request from the Groveton Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) regarding a $22,500 grant to be awarded to Wayne Arnold’s Steel Buildings. Evans explained that because the business was located outside the city limits of Groveton, GEDC was required to get county approval before the money could be awarded.
• Appointed 29 county residents to two-year terms on the Trinity County Historical Commission.