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County seeks $400K grant for courthouse foundation
Wilson County NewsOctober 16, 2013 | 1,968 views | 7 comments
The Wilson County Commissioners Court has decided to proceed with its attempt to secure up to $400,000 in emergency grant funds from the Texas Historical Commission, following a unanimous vote at the commissioners’ Oct. 14 meeting. The funds, if awarded, would be used to stabilize the foundation of the Wilson County Courthouse.
Architect Lyndsay Thorn of San Antonio-based ThornGraves said that the historical commission’s decision would not be affected by the outcome of the upcoming certificates of obligation election Nov. 5. Voters are being asked whether the county should issue $8.5 million in debt to finance:
•Renovation and stabilization of the courthouse
•Conversion of the north wing of Wilson County Courthouse Annex III into a public library
•Conversion of the west wing of Annex III into a criminal justice center complex.
When the commissioners first proposed the $8.5 million figure, it was intended that any leftover funds would be used for county road repairs and for construction of an animal shelter. But Wilson County Pct. 2 Commissioner Paul Pfeil said it is unlikely there will be funds left over to address those needs at this time.
Also related to the proposed capital improvements, Thorn and Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney responded to criticism over the approximately $700,000 the county already has spent on the project. Thorn said these funds were used to pay for the initial studies of the courthouse that included analysis and excavation of the foundation, planning the new justice center complex, overall master planning of the Annex III property, and more.
“We’re doing these three projects, which are essential to the county’s health and well-being, at the cost of doing any one of these projects as a stand-alone,” Quinney said.
Pfeil estimates that just constructing a new courthouse that would meet the county’s current needs would cost as much as $30 million.
While a cost figure has not been finalized, the entire project as of Aug. 26 had an estimated grand total of $9,183,690.
In addition to the proposed capital improvements, insurance also was a dominant topic of the Oct. 14 meeting. The commissioners opened bids for the county’s health insurance, with a total of 16 companies submitting packages that will be reviewed by IPS Advisors. From there, the insurance agent will negotiate with the companies and present its findings to the county’s insurance committee -- Pfeil and Pct. 4 Commissioner Larry Wiley, Sgt. Thomas Silvas of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Dawn Barnett of the county judge’s office, and County Auditor Verna Gorzell -- which will submit a final recommendation to the full commissioners court Oct. 28.
Also related to insurance, County Attorney Daynah Fallwell weighed in on an earlier request by the county’s former insurance agency, Hartman Insurance. Hartman Sept. 23 addressed commissioners to request a portion of IPS’ commission, since the new agent was hired while Hartman was laying the groundwork for the health insurance bid opening. Fallwell said that state law allows the county to change agents at any time, and that the new agent is entitled to any remaining commission.
In attendance: Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney and commissioners Paul Pfeil, Ricky Morales, and Larry Wiley; County Attorney Daynah Fallwell, County Clerk Eva Martinez, Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr., County Auditor Verna Gorzell, Treasurer Jan Hartl, Lisa Eberhardt of the Wilson County Auditor’s Office, Library Director Nicki Stohr, Wilson County Health and Public Safety Office Coordinator Edwin Baker, and Wilson County Emergency Management Coordinator LeAnn Hosek.
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William J. Gibbs Jr.
October 22, 2013 3:06pm
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William J. Gibbs Jr.
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