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Year in review: County tackles courthouse, space issues
After ending 2011 with having to evacuate much of the historic Wilson County Courthouse in downtown Floresville, a significant portion of the Wilson County Commissioners Court’s efforts in 2012 were focused on the future of the 129-year-old landmark.
The commissioners began the year by hiring San Antonio-based ThornGraves Architects to assess the structure and to formulate a plan for its rehabilitation. The months-long process, which then-County Auditor Ray Wolff estimated to cost the county $75,000, determined that soil shifting and water intrusion, along with inferior-quality bricks, were at the root of the building’s cracking walls and crumbling foundation. Additions to the courthouse, which currently house the county clerk’s office and the Texas AgriLife Extension, were in more satisfactory condition and have stayed open.
Meanwhile, the commissioners courtroom and offices for the county judge, county attorney, district court, and elections moved to the Wilson County Courthouse Annex III, which formerly was the Floresville Primary Campus. The commissioners in April voted to spend $1,075,000 to purchase the campus, after renting two buildings since September 2011.
In December 2012, the commissioners approved a plan to renovate both the courthouse and Annex III, which would cost taxpayers an estimated $5 million. Of that figure, approximately $1.5 million would be spent to stabilize the courthouse. An additional $500,000 could be spent on interior renovations, so that several offices could be relocated there.
Up to $2.9 million would be spent to convert one of the buildings at Annex III into a criminal justice complex, to include a new district courtroom and offices for the 81st Judicial District Attorney, adult probation, and district judges, along with a secure parking area for the judges and an enclosed sally port to allow efficient inmate transfers.
A building on the Annex III campus that parallels Railroad Street is being eyed for a new public library, which could replace the current Sam Fore Jr. Wilson County Public Library, located on the courthouse square. Renovating the building into “a top-notch library” could cost an additional $1.6 million.
The commissioners ended 2012 pledging to keep the public abreast of developments with these projects at each commissioners court meeting. A public hearing is likely to commence after the design phase is complete.
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