County still has hope for courthouse grant
Trinity Standard , April 2007
GROVETON – Although nothing will be known until later this year, Trinity County Judge Mark Evans the chances of the county winning a $4 million grant to renovate its courthouse are looking up.
During Monday’s meeting of the Trinity County Commissioners Court, Evans reported that both the Texas Senate and House have passed funding bills that would reauthorize the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Courthouse Restoration Program.
“In the House version, they’ve allocated $85 million in bond money and the Senate has authorized $35 million in general fund money,” Evans told commissioners.
“Hopefully, they can reconcile the two bills and the grant program can move ahead,” he added.
He noted that Trinity County is now in line to receive about $4 million to restore the exterior of the three-story brick courthouse and to remodel the interior.
Work would include new plumbing, new electrical lines, an elevator and a centralized heating/cooling system.
The eastern wing of the courthouse – originally the county clerk’s records vault – was built in 1908 and the remainder was completed in 1913. Much of its existing plumbing and electrical systems date back to those construction dates.
While a ramp at the rear of the building provides handicapped access to the first floor, the second floor can only be accessed by two stair cases. At present the third floor, accessed by one narrow staircase, is used only to store old records.
The cooling and hearing systems now in use are composed of individual window units located in each office.
Another major feature in the grant would be restoring the second-floor district courtroom to as close to its original appearance as possible.
Because Trinity County won a $373,000 planning grant under the program in 2004, it was in line to receive the construction grant in 2006, but problems in state funding shut down the program.
In 2005 the legislature reauthorized the grant program, but they used federal highway dollars to fund it. The Federal Highway Administration subsequently ruled the money earmarked by the legislature could not be spent in that manner and the entire grant program has been on hold for the past two years.
“There is now more hope that the courthouse restoration program will be funded again and when it is, we’re right at the top of the list,” Evans said Monday.
It was noted that counties which have received the planning grants during one budget cycle, almost always are awarded construction grants during the next. The only exceptions in the past have been where problems in completing the planning grant arose.
In Trinity County’s case, no such problems occurred and construction plans and specifications are ready to go as soon as the local restoration application is given the green light by THC.
During Monday’s meeting, commissioners also:
• Approved the appointment of Doug Page and Millard Stains as reserve deputy constables by Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace.
• Approved a proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Trinity County.
• Approved a proclamation designating April 14 as Trash-Off Day in Trinity County. Keep Trinity County Beautiful Director Capt. Andy Wilson had sought the proclamation in support of the county-wide clean up campaign set for that day.
• Learned from Pct. 1 Commissioner Jannette Hortman that the old Trinity County Appraisal Building in Trinity would be ready for the precinct 2 and 3 justice of the peaces to move in by the end of this week. The county purchased the building, located next door to the Trinity County Sub-Courthouse, last month and Hortman has been overseeing work to convert it into office space for the JPS.
• Scheduled a public hearing for 10 a.m. May 14 regarding the setting of a 25 mile per house speed limit on County Line Road and Neil Helton Road.
• Scheduled a public hearing for 10 a.m. on May 14 regarding setting a 25 mph speed limit on all roads in the Harbor Point Subdivision.
• Scheduled a public hearing for 10 a.m. on May 14 regarding a petition from the Harbor Point Subdivision Property Owners’ Association to place 20 stop signs at various intersections within the subdivision.
• Approved the plat of 20-acre Lonesome Dove Subdivision submitted by Jack Miller. The subdivision is located off FM 356 behind the Deerwood Subdivision and near White Rock Acres.
• Tabled action on a request from Jack Hayes to re-plat part of a 165.68 acre subdivision in Precinct 1. The original plat was approved earlier this year, although commissioners at the time expressed reservation regarding a number of narrow “flag” lots included. Because of those concerns, Hayes wants to re-plat the development to remove all but one of the flag lots. Because Hayes has sold 10 lots in the development, state law requires that the lot owners be notified of the change and be given a chance to object before the county can approve the new plat. Hayes noted the proposed changes would not affect the property lines on the lots that had already been sold.
• Tabled action -- pending completing of a survey -- on a request from Alvin Scherer, a lot owner in the Colony Park Estates subdivision to split his two lots into four.
• Authorized Pct. 2 Commissioner Jannette Hortman to enter into a written agreement with a landowner on Pinecrest Road. The agreement would grant the county access to the property in order to clean a drainage ditch that runs between the property and Pinecrest Road.