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Trinity Standard - Local News

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Courthouse work nearing completion
Trinity Standard -

GROVETON – With the rededication ceremony now set for July 22, work on the $5.25 million courthouse restoration project is entering the home stretch, During Monday’s meeting of the Trinity County Commissioners Court, architect Michael Gaertner of Galveston updated local officials on the project, noting that much of the remaining work is outside of the building. He told commissioners interior work remaining includes completing the painting and restrooms and installing the light fixtures. Outside the building, crews will be pouring concrete and grading the ground. He added they also are about to begin installing the irrigation system approved by commissioners last month. The underground system will be installed throughout the courthouse square to include the lawns around both the county jail and the Rock Building. During his presentation, he did submit two change orders, which would add about $5,500 to the final cost of the courthouse. The largest for about $3,500 would be used to “smooth” the ceiling in the district courtroom. Gaertner explained that they planned to use an acoustic plaster on the ceiling to help control echoes in the massive room but when they put in the scaffolding to reach the top of the room, they discovered the existing plaster was not smooth. “The original plaster was uneven and wavy and the acoustic plaster needs a flat surface in order to work,” Gaertner said. The additional $3,500 would be needed to smooth out the ceiling before the sound dampening plaster is installed. The district courtroom is located on the second floor of the courthouse but the room extends upward through what would be the third floor. The other change order approved Monday by commissioners was for $2,000 to regrade the courthouse lawn area. Gaertner noted that in the past, the county’s maintenance staff had problems with soil washing off the steep embankments by the front and back sidewalks. Under the plan approved Monday, those embankments will be regraded to help eliminate the problem of soil erosion. Also in regard to the courthouse, Pct. 1 Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham reported that crews were scheduled to remove three dead or dying trees from the front of the courthouse on Tuesday, May 10. Commissioners approved the removal of the three trees during their meeting in April. Waltz Road moved During the meeting, commissioners approved the relocation of the county-owned Waltz Road following a public hearing. The road currently runs through the middle of the YMCA-owned Camp Cullen located off FM 356 east of Trinity. Last month, camp officials approached commissioners with a plan to move the road to the extreme western boundary of the camp. The camp would pay for the cost of building the new roadway and once the construction is accepted by the commissioners court, the county would take over the maintenance. Camp officials cited safety concerns as the reason for the change. Kent Harris of the YMCA of Greater Houston told commissioners YMCA officials had been planning a major redesign of the camp to replace some of its 40-year-old buildings but a fire last year that destroyed the relatively new dining hall forced them to take another look at the facility. Under the new master plan that came out of that study, the YMCA officials decided to seek the road change so that public traffic would not be on the same road as the young campers walking to and from the various camp activity sites. Officials also expressed concern that as a public road, sexual offenders had direct access to the interior of the youth camp. Under the plan, the new road would be fenced on both sides and camp officials would have greater control over who was coming onto the YMCA property. Harris said that while the new road would be named Waltz Road, the old road would be renamed Waltz Camp Road and most of it would remain in place for use by campers and staff. He did note that the camp’s main entrance off FM 356 would be relocated to the west and a portion of the exiting road near the current entrance would be graded over and “vegetation would be allowed to take over.” During the public hearing portion of the meeting, three residents who use Waltz Road to access their lakefront property were on hand to ask questions. None voiced objections to the final proposal. They included Jim and Selma Rippey and Elizabeth King. One of the concerns voiced by the Rippeys involved the road surface and where the new road would intersect with the old road before it reached the private property along the lakefront. Officials assured them the new road would be all weather using crushed limestone. It would intersect the existing road near the present location of the camp’s rifle range, which is being relocated under the new master plan. Mrs. Rippey noted that her grandfather, Louis Waltz, established a farm in the area in 1912 and the existing road lead to that farm. The farmhouse was located on what is now a small island located in Lake Livingston. Jim Rippey noted his liked the part of the plan that called for a wider road to be built. “We will actually have a two-lane road instead of about a one and a half lane road,” he said. Harris added the camp has been in operation since about 1970 and that the current road was in place since well before that time. “Much better construction standards are in place today than when the existing road was built,” he added He noted that when completed, the new road would not be used by the young campers and that staff vehicles would have very little need to operate on it. Most of the Camp Cullen traffic will be on the internal camp roads. Another speaker during the hearing was Mark Gray, pastor of the Trinity Pines Baptist Church. The new road will intersect with FM 356 immediately to the east of the church’s property. “We love the idea,” Gray told commissioners. “This will give the church a back entrance.” Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: • Accepted bids on limestone base and rock material for use on county roads from Frost Crushed Stone Co. of Mexia. • Accepted a bid on limestone road base and hauling costs from Ronald Fry Logging and Construction of Groveton. The material is to be used on Louisville Road in the Davy Crockett National Forest. • Approved the placement of a three-way stop at the intersection of Lloyd Bell Road and Trinity Cove Road. A public hearing was held on the matter but no one appeared in either opposition or support of the plan. • Accepted the donation of $8,321.25 raised by Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace during a recent spaghetti lunch fund drive. The commissioners approved a plan to earmark $500 for the purchase of a bulletproof vest for Deputy Constable Mark Cole with the remainder going into a fund to reimburse deputy constables for gasoline expenses. Wallace asked for and commissioners approved a reimbursement rate of 30 cents per mile for the deputy constables. Wallace noted that during the fundraiser, one local resident donated the $500 specifically for the vest with the remainder of the money being raised for the deputy constable’s gasoline costs. • Approved a list of bids on tax resale properties submitted by the Trinity County Appraisal District. Chief Appraiser Susan McKinley explained the bids were on properties that did not sell during the sheriff’s auction. • Approved an agreement with Harris County that would allow the Harris County medical examiner’s office to perform autopsies ordered by Trinity County Justices of the Peace.


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