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Repairs to courthouse, annex could total $5M
Chain-link fencing has surrounded much of the historic Wilson County Courthouse since September 2011, when the original portion of the structure built in 1884 was deemed unsafe and was condemned. Rear portions of the building that were added later, which house the Texas AgriLife Extension Agency and the Wilson County Clerk’s office, have remained open.
Wilson County NewsDecember 5, 2012 2,322 views 4 comments
FLORESVILLE -- According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wilson County is home to 42,918 residents. This is almost quadruple its population when the Wilson County Courthouse was constructed in 1884, which is why the Wilson County Commissioners Court met in a Nov. 26 workshop to discuss the future of the county’s facilities.
Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney said after the workshop that a proposal presented by Lyndsay Thorn of ThornGraves indicated that stabilization of the courthouse would cost an estimated $1.5 million. It could cost approximately $500,000 more to perform interior renovations, the judge said. Quinney also said these figures still are preliminary and subject to change.
Thorn also presented sketches of proposed renovations to the Wilson County Courthouse Annex III -- which is the former Floresville Primary Campus on Fourth Street, between Railroad and A streets -- in Floresville. These plans include a new district courtroom and offices for the 81st Judicial District Attorney, adult probation, and district judges. It also would include a secure parking area for the judges and an enclosed sally port for inmates being transferred from patrol cars to the courtroom by law-enforcement personnel.
When it comes to the Wilson County Courthouse, Pct. 4 Commissioner Larry Wiley said after the meeting that Thorn’s proposal preserves its historic value while maintaining its value to the citizens as a place where they can conduct business. Commissioners court meetings would return there, except they now would be held upstairs in the former district courtroom. County court also would be held there.
Also slated for return to the courthouse are the offices for the county judge, county attorney, county treasurer, and county auditor. Wiley said the current shortage of space for the county clerk might be resolved by allowing that office to use the courthouse basement, which currently is occupied by the Texas AgriLife Extension Agency. He did not indicate relocation plans for that office.
Another department that might move is the Sam Fore Jr. Wilson County Public Library; its director has long complained of running out of space in the current 5,000-square-foot building near the corner of Fourth and D streets in Floresville. Pct. 2 Commissioner Paul Pfeil said the commissioners have considered allowing the library to occupy space in the wing of Courthouse Annex III that parallels Railroad Street. Quinney said this space measures approximately 14,000 feet.
“Nothing is set in stone,” Pfeil said.
Also not certain is how the county will fund the renovations. Pfeil said the commissioners set aside $500,000 in reserves for the project in the county’s 2013 fiscal year budget, which could be used as a down payment on a loan or as a match for a grant. Interim Wilson County Auditor Verna Gorzell is researching various financing options with the county’s financial advisor, Pfeil said.
“There are several options; it’s kind of premature to put that out into the public at this time,” Quinney said.
The judge said he has directed that all future commissioners court agendas contain verbiage related to the project, so that discussions and actions could occur. More information, Quinney said, would be made available during the commissioners’ Dec. 10 meeting.
“We have a lot of business to carry on, and we have inadequate facilities,” Quinney said. “I would like to see this [project] get under way very soon.”
Pct. 3 Commissioner Ricky Morales said after the meeting, “We didn’t accomplish anything.”
Morales wanted to come away with a firmer understanding of cost figures associated with the renovations. He said he wanted to know exactly how the county would obtain and repay funds used to finance the work. At this time, Morales does not consider himself in favor of or opposed to the proposal.
However, Pct. 1 Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. said he currently is against the plan and that he would like the public to have input before the commissioners make a final decision.
“We’re talking about a loan that could take at least 15 years to repay,” he said. “I’m looking at the future of the county, because I won’t be here; a lot of them won’t be here.”
Pct. 4 Commissioner Larry Wiley agreed with the idea of public hearings, which would introduce taxpayers to the plan and allow them to make additional suggestions.
Pfeil, when asked about public hearings, left that decision up to Quinney.
The judge said, “It’s not my intention at this time. We had a hearing. Everything will be on the agenda.”
Your Opinions and Comments
Publius Valerius Publicola
December 6, 2012 8:45am
Rabble Rouser Extraordinaire
December 6, 2012 7:47am
December 5, 2012 9:37am
The Marcelina Muse
Dry Tank, TX
December 5, 2012 9:23am
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