|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - March 9, 2008 - March 16, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
County to borrow $1.6 million for courthouse
Trinity Standard - March 2008
GROVETON – A total of $1.6 million in certificates of obligation will be issued by Trinity County as its share of a projected $6.5 million renovation of the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton.
During a special meeting last week, county commissioners met with architects and financial advisors to hammer out plans for the county’s “local match” to a $5 million grant awarded by the Texas Historical Commission.
While County Judge Mark Evans had previously indicated the county would need to raise only about $1 million in local money, commissioners learned during the Wednesday, March 12, meeting that the estimated cost of the renovation had increased from about $6 million to just over $6.5 million.
Following the meeting, Evans noted that the local share of the cost includes a $564,000 “contingency fund” which may or may not be needed.
Under the plan approved by commissioners, the county plans to sell the certificates of obligation (COs) in order to raise the $1.6 million.
The money would be paid back over a 15 year period at roughly $150,000 per year. Evans indicated that this will require an increase in property taxes of between 3 and 4 cents per year until the COs are retired.
The exact amount of the annual payment and the impact on the local tax rate will not be determined until the COs are sold and the interest rate finalized.
Evans noted that local banks will be among the financial institutions that will be eligible to bid on the COs. The institution which bids the lowest interest rate will be allowed to purchase the COs.
Under a schedule prepared by the architects, the county hopes to be able to start the renovation work in September. It is estimated it will take about 14 months to complete the work.
While the county is expected to begin moving back into the courthouse in December 2009, the formal rededication ceremony for the building is planned in April 2010.
Because the county received a THC planning grant for the work in 2004, the construction drawings for the renovation are “95% complete” with only final details left to be included.
The final revisions are expected to be completed by May and bids will be sought in June and awarded in July.
Scope of the work
The three-story red brick courthouse was completed in 1914. Under the grant, the building’s exterior will be restored to its original appearance.
While efforts will be made to preserve the historical appearance of the interior, architects have noted the renovation will provide the county with a modern, functional office building.
An elevator connecting all three floors will be installed, new mechanical and electrical systems will be added and new telephone and internet lines will be put into place.
Additional security features also will be added and for the first time a sprinkler and fire alarm system will be installed. The plumbing system also will be reworked and handicapped accessible restrooms will be added.
The lighting design will include reproduction of historic pendant fixtures in the corridors and modern, energy efficient fixtures in the offices.
The fireplace in the old county clerk’s office (now used by the county attorney) that was damaged by fire in 2005 also will be restored.
In the second-floor district courtroom, the false ceiling will be removed and the existing decorative plaster and historical light fixtures in the vaulted ceiling will be restored.
Also included will be an emergency power generator.
Temporary offices needed
During another meeting held on Thursday, March 12, commissioners continued their discussion on finding office space to house the county’s departments while the courthouse renovation is underway.
While possible locations for departments have been kicked around in pervious discussions, the commissioners agreed Thursday to name Pct. 2 Commissioner Jannette Hortman and County Auditor Sheila Johnson to a committee to make recommendations for temporary office space.
Evans noted that he also would assist with the committee’s work.
Under the plan, the committee will determine the needs of the various departments – including the district court and commissioners court – and then seek out possible temporary space for them in Groveton.
During the special meetings last week, commissioners also:
• Vote to open 400 feet of Port Boulevard in the Port Adventure Subdivision as a county road. The section will run from the intersection with FM 356 and will include the wooden bridge that now provides access into the development. Under the plan outlined by Pct. 1 Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham, the county will now ask the Texas Department of Transportation to inspect the bridge and to place it on the list for the state’s off-system bridge program. Under this program, TxDOT replaces county-owned bridges with modern concrete and steel structures like those found on Farm to Market highways.
• Approved a plat for Section 1 of the Eaglewood Subdivision in Precinct 3.