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$450K grant for courthouse repairs
NANNETTE KILBEYL-SMITH/Reprints at wilsoncountynews.com—
Since 2011, the 1884 portion of the Wilson County Courthouse has been off-limits, due to issues with the building’s foundation. Grant funds will help restore the building for public use.
History buffs and county officials alike are cheering the Texas Historical Commission’s April 30 announcement of a $450,000 emergency matching-funds grant award to Wilson County. The funds will be used for stabilizing the foundation of the historic Wilson County Courthouse, which was constructed in 1884.
The decision marks a victory for members of the Wilson County Historical Society and the Wilson County Historical Commission, who long have lobbied the state for help. One of those at the forefront of the effort was LaJuana Newnam-Leus.
“I wrote how wholeheartedly we supported this project on the courthouse, making improvements that would better help serve our citizens, maintain the integrity of its historical presence, and being the focal point of our community as well as the governmental site of Wilson County,” she said. “I noted that she has served us well in all these years past, and we are looking forward to again being able to open her doors and continue to serve our county for many years to come.”
“We are very excited about the grant,” said Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney. “It will help meet the needs of the county, and we are very appreciative [of] the help we received from [State] Sen. Judith Zaffirini, State Rep. John Kuempel, and architect Lyndsay Thorn with ThornGraves Architects.”
The funds will aid the county in its renovation and stabilization of the downtown Floresville landmark -- much of which has gone unused since being declared unsafe in 2011.
“I have really missed walking up those front steps into the lobby of this grand old building where so much of our county history has taken place,” said Wilson County Historical Society member Shirley Grammer. “I was really concerned for a while that we might lose the most historic building in our county, but now with the extra monies from the state, our charming historic courthouse can be returned to its original elegance and splendor.”
Making the building usable again is part of the reason for an $8.5 million certificate of obligation package approved by voters in November 2013.
“The planned sources of funding for the foundation, stabilization, and renovation of our historic courthouse, did not include the $450,000 grant that we just received from the state,” said Wilson County Pct. 4 Commissioner Larry Wiley. “This additional funding will put Wilson County in an even stronger financial position as we go forward. If there are any cost overruns, the grant will help offset them. If we are able to stay within our estimated budgets, we will have funding to devote to other important county projects. I can’t speak for the other members of commissioners court, but a Wilson County animal control facility would be at the forefront of my priorities.”
Wilson County’s grant is part of more than $5 million the commission awarded in Round VIII of the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. Other communities receiving funds in this round are the counties of Callahan, Dickens, Dimmit, Houston, Hunt, Jefferson, Karnes, Lamar, Lee, Limestone, Lipscomb, Lynn, Polk, Rains, San Saba, and Upshur, and the city of Hidalgo.
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