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Commissioners consider Courthouse tenants

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

As the Caldwell County Commissioners entered the final payments to the architectural and construction firms for the renovation of the Caldwell County Judicial Center, questions began to generate about how to use the vacant office space in the Caldwell County Courthouse.

The master facility plan as the Judic

ial Center neared completion involved centralizing the remaining county offices at the Courthouse, after the clerks, district attorney and probation departments vacated the buildings, allowing both the former Justice Center Annex and the Tax Office Building to be put up for sale later this year.

“We have spent millions on this building, and we are doing a disservice to the community to leave it half empty,” Commissioner Alfredo Munoz said about the historic downtown Courthouse. “It’s a living building, and we need to use it.”

Munoz, who represents Precinct One, where the Courthouse is physically located, said he had been working for weeks with the stakeholders in office to determine what would be the best use of the space.

However, some of the elected officials that Munoz suggested office in the Courthouse expressed concern about the changes.

“I don’t mind moving, but I am concerned about having an office with a door that locks,” said Tax Assessor-Collector Darla Law. “My concern is that with the amount of traffic in and out of the building, that space doesn’t currently have an office that locks, for me.”

County Treasurer Lori Rangel also expressed concerns about employee and asset safety, noting Munoz’s plan would have the Tax Assessor-Collector, Auditor and County Treasurer all located on the first floor of the building.

After hearing from the stakeholders, County Judge Kenneth Schawe, whose offices would also move under the proposed plan, said he wanted to continue to review the proposal before making a decision.

“I hate moving,” he said, while Munoz noted Schawe at no time asked for larger offices. “But there are people here in the Courthouse who need more space, and I want to make sure we’re using all the space we can.”

At the end of the discussions, the Commissioners opted to postpone the decision until March 9, 2015, during their first regular meeting in March. This, they agreed, would give the stakeholders in the conversation the opportunity to reach the agreement as to what would be the best course of action for everyone occupying the building.

In brief news:

Caldwell County approved final invoices and payments to LongLife Projects, Braun and Butler Construction and Steinbomer, Bramwell and Vrazel Architects for their work on the Caldwell County Judicial Center. The project is now closed, according to Reddin, and has entered the “warranty period.”

The Commissioners heard from American Legion Post #61 Commander Rick Johnson regarding a veterans’ service mission being embarked upon by several organizations throughout Central Texas. The organizations including the Legion, the VFW and the Vietnam Veterans of America, are planning to host a Vietnam-Era Homecoming on April 18, 2015, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Lion Stadium in Lockhart. Follow future editions of the Post-Register for additional information on the program as details become available.

The Court heard monthly departmental reports from the Caldwell County Elections Administrator, the Unit Road System and the Caldwell County Veterans’ Service Officer.

They heard a request from Caldwell County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Ben E. Brady regarding installing an additional security camera in Brady’s offices, and approved the recommendation of Caldwell County Emergency Management Coordinator Martin Ritchey to leave the burn ban off.

The Caldwell County Commissioners Court routinely meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the Second Floor Courtroom of the Caldwell County Courthouse. The meetings are open to the public and are webcast at www.co.caldwell.tx.us.


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