Price remains a mystery for ‘WalMart renovation’

By Kathi Bliss

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Talks continued on Monday regarding the expansive renovation project that will soon begin at the old WalMart facility on Highway 183 in Lockhart.

The facility, which the Commissioners decided last year to renovate to serve as the Caldwell County Justice Center, has been at the center of a storm of discussion in recent months, as conversations move forward as to the best use of the space, and the most cost-effective way to achieve those goals.

Representatives from Steinbomer, Bramwell and Vrazel Architects visited with the Commissioners again on Monday to make recommendations and hear suggestions as to how the space should be used; key among the questions were whether or not to include a vehicle maintenance bay in the facility, how many courtrooms should be built and what size, and how the County would pay for the renovations.

Commissioner Joe Roland, early in the conversation, suggested that a bond election should be held to allow voters to weigh in on a project that could cost anywhere between $2.5 and $8 million.

County Administrator Ron Heggemeier suggested that nearly half of the project should be funded via a note of some sort, and the other half though the County’s reserve funds.

No decisions have been made on the financing of the project, and it is impossible to surmise what the project will cost until decisions are made regarding the use of the space.

Conversations will continue between the architects, the Commissioners and the potential stakeholders to determine which offices will move to the new building, and how the space will be set up.

In other business:

Reviving a piece of old business, the Commissioners spent time discussing proposed changes to the Caldwell County Commissioners Court Rules of Procedure, Conduct, and Decorum.

The changes being proposed by Commissioner Fred Buchholtz are being suggested in an effort to help the Commissioners gather more information about applicants for appointments to various county boards, as well as to ensure that the positions are well-publicized and new applicants know the appointments are available.

The procedures revised by Buchholtz for Monday’s

meeting include a six-week process of advertising for appointments, asking would-be applicants to apply, and hearing recommendations from seated board members.

Though all the Commissioners agreed that there should be a definitive procedure in place, some, most notably Commissioner Joe Roland, expressed concern that the process suggested by Buchholtz will be a burden both for the organizations and for the volunteers.

Buchholtz agreed to go back to the drawing board on the measure, and will bring additional information forward during a future meeting.

Commissioner Neto Madrigal announced the finalization of an agreement with Flint Hills Resources, a Mustang Ridge company, to pave a portion of Old Lockhart Road (County Road 176).

The road will be paved as an act of goodwill for the residents who live there, because it is expected that a “dead end” will be installed at the northern-most end of the road, changing the intersection of FM 1854 and Highway 21 to a four-way stop, allowing a stop light to be installed. The current five-way intersection has been the site of several serious accidents, and Flint Hills is attempting to make the roads surrounding their business safer for all who travel them.

In brief news:

The Commissioners heard an update regarding the Caldwell County Wildfire Protection Plan. They also heard the final report on the Hog-Out Feral Hog Bounty program, which removed more than 1,025 hogs from Caldwell County from October – December 2012.

The Commissioners approved the purchase of servers for installation by the IT department funds to be transfer from reserves for the purchase. The cost of the purchase will be $56,622.37.

The Commissioners approved a Proclamation to designate the month of February 2013 as Black History Month.

They accepted Certificates of Completion for continuing education hours for County Clerk Carol Holcomb, District Clerk Tina Morgan an Veteran Services Officer David Francis.

The County paid bills in the amount of $269,886.23

The Caldwell County Commissioners routinely meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of the month at 9 a.m. in the Conference and Training Room at the LW Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St., in Lockhart. The meetings are open to the public and interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend.

kathibliss@post-register.com

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