Price tag on Justice Center clears $9M
By LPR Staff
With less than a month remaining until “moving day,” the Caldwell County Commissioners continue to focus on the final details of the renovation and construction at the new Caldwell County Judicial Center, formerly the Lockhart WalMart, on Highway 183.
The project, initiated last year in an effo
rt to centralize the county’s court functions, including the District and County Courts, the District and County Clerks, the District Attorney’s Office and Adult Probation, is progressing on schedule, according to project manager Les Reddin, and should be ready for delivery on Nov. 23.
To date, the County has invested upwards of $9 million in the sweeping renovation, including the purchase of the building and surrounding land. In general, according to Reddin, expenses involved with the renovation and moving have come in under the budgeted amount of $11,112,833. However, in the final stages of construction, those figures could change, based on the last details still required, including the ceramic mosaic planned for installation in the main hallway, additional security features and landscaping.
The current project timeline projects that offices will begin relocating to the Judicial Center during the first week of December, with full occupation of the building expected by Dec. 12.
To that end the Court unanimously approved a request for funds not to exceed $14,983 for movers to transport equipment and furnishings to the building. They also made plans to hold the Dec. 8, 2014 meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners Court in the second-floor courtroom of the historic Caldwell County Courthouse, as an experimental run to determine whether the meetings should be moved to that location permanently in the future.
In an effort to help accommodate a future relocation to the Caldwell County Courthouse, area residents Bob Karasch and Pat Horne approached the Court on Monday to discuss the acoustics in the Main Courtroom, which could make a relocation of the Commissioners Court unfeasible.
“When the Courthouse was built, audio systems didn’t exist, so people had to ‘talk up’ and they made the room as lively as possible, so that people could hear,” Horne said. “Now, it might be wise to put an audio reinforcement system, which would also require cutting down on the echoes.”
Horne and Karasch recommended installing a microphone system in the courtroom, as well as installing sound-absorbing materials in areas such as the witness box, under the benches and in the balcony.
Because the room would be used primarily for the Commissioners Court meetings, some areas of the building would have to be changed; those changes first require discussion with the Caldwell County Historical Commission.
Before moving forward, County Judge Tom Bonn suggested a meeting in the courtroom with Horne and Karasch to determine what might be necessary to manage the acoustics in the courtroom.
They plan to have that conference prior to the scheduled Dec. 8, 2014, meeting of the Commissioners Court.
In brief news:
The County paid bills the amount of $845,689.08 for November 10th, 2014.
They approved an invoice for October 2014 timesheet for Les Reddin, LongLife Projects in the amount of $8,700 for the Justice Service Center project management work.
They paid Braun and Butler Construction in the amount of $602,799.70 for the Caldwell County Justice Center.
They discussed an audit of the Caldwell County Treasurer’s Office that revealed certain fees that have not been submitted to the State of Texas for nearly a decade. County Auditor Larry Roberson said the fees had been overlooked for quite some time, but that new software systems were in place to coordinate between the Treasurer’s Office, Auditor’s Office, County and District Courts and the Justice Precinct Offices, to make sure the fees are timely submitted in the future.
In light of the recent rains, the Commissioners opted to leave the outdoor burning ban off for the time being.
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court routinely meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the Conference and Training Center at the LW Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St., in Lockhart. The meetings are open to the public, and are broadcast and available for later viewing at www.co.caldwell.tx.us.