Justice Center remodel moves forward


By LPR Staff

Renovations of the Caldwell County Judicial Center have once again returned to the forefront of discussion for the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court.
A project intended to maximize space and soundproof the courtrooms at the Judicial Center at the corner of San Antonio and Commerce Streets has stumbled a rocky road s

ince its introduction in March 2008 may finally be nearing a resolution.

Last month, the Commissioners’ Court awarded a bid on the remodeling project to a local construction company, which was later unable to secure the insurance bonds required by the county. The request for bids was re-advertised, and six bids were received and opened by County officials on Friday.

During their regular meeting on Monday, the Commissioners’ Court heard from project architect Thom Earnest, who said he had performed a cursory review of the bids, but he was not comfortable offering the Court a recommendation. Some of the bidding contractors, he said, did not have access to the $5 million bond required, while others may not have included city permitting fees in their bids.

Some Commissioners have expressed frustration at the amount of time the project has taken to get off the ground, and were disappointed that Earnest was not ready to move forward.

“We need to bring some closure to this issue,” County Judge H.T. Wright said. “I’m surprised we’re not able to make a recommendation today, and I’d like to see that done by the next meeting.”

Earnest said he would review the bids, including the contractors’ references, and would bring a recommendation to the Court by their next regular meeting on Oct. 27. Precinct Two Commissioner Charles Bullock, who has often said he would rather see the offices in the Justice Center “make do, just like we ask the rest of our departments to do,” voted against moving forward on the project.

In other business, AgriLife Extension representative Cheryl Mapston approached the Court to introduce a candidate for the position of Caldwell County’s Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences.

Texas A&M graduate Carissa Wilhelm, a native Texan who grew up in the Panhandle, was chosen to fill the position vacated by Sarah Stribling earlier this year. Wilhelm has extensive experience with Family and Consumer Sciences, including a long history of involvement with 4-H, Mapston said.
The Court unanimously approved the recommendation. Wilhelm will begin training in Gonzales County on Nov. 1, and will assume her post in Caldwell County in December.

In brief Court news:
The commissioners opted to leave an outdoor burning ban in place for at least another week. According to the county’s Office of Emergency Management, last week’s rains did little to lessen the danger of grass fires.

They approved resolutions naming 26 polling places for the Nov. 4, 2008, General Election.

The Court approved a contribution to Combined Community Action, Inc., in the amount of $1,300, which will allow the organization to apply for a grant to help fund the Meals on Wheels program.

They approved a variance that will allow a property owner to sell a tract of property on Railroad Street in Maxwell.

The County paid bills in the amount of $507,876.38, which includes $20,387.32 in indigent legal defense, $14,006.63 in indigent health care, and $392,913.35 in bond funds for the Caldwell County Jail Annex construction project.

The Caldwell County Commissioners meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.


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