Courthouse Restoration Project
Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas


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6/29/2003 County hub needs facelift: Courthouse restoration special meeting topic

By LOYD COOK/Daily Sun Staff

The wiring is old and the plumbing needs work. A part of one floor needs to be put back like it once was. And it's going to cost a pretty penny.

It sounds like the work you might need done to your home but, in this case, these are some of the areas needing attention at the Navarro County Courthouse -- areas that have an estimated cost of $4 million to $5.5 million.

County Judge Alan Bristol said commissioners will meet Monday to consider the next step for renovating the courthouse following two consecutive, and unsuccessful, attempts to secure state funding for the repairs.

The meeting is set for 1 p.m. at the courthouse.

"What the commissioners court will have to decide is if we want to authorize these architects to go ahead with this," Judge Bristol said, noting that any successful future grant attempt is likely two years down the road.

Judge Bristol said representatives from 1113 Architects, an architectural firm based in Austin, will be present to discuss where the county wants to go in its efforts to fix the aging building.

He said the firm believes the past two attempts at state funding have failed because of the county's reluctance to put back an original balcony from the third floor that once overlooked the second floor district courtroom.

"And I pretty much agree with them," Judge Bristol said Friday. "I think not having (balcony restoration) in our proposal has kept our (grant) score down and kept us from getting approved."

The balcony, now long gone, would eat up a lot of office space in the middle portion of that third floor, the judge said. That's an issue to consider given space constraints already present in the courthouse.

The most-likely affected areas would be at least a portion of the adult and juvenile probation departments and the extension service offices.

Perhaps even as important, when electrical and plumbing repairs are in progress, Judge Bristol said it will require everyone in the courthouse to move out.

"That means finding space for courthouse operations," he said.

There is also exterior termite damage on the front of the courthouse that needs repair.

As always, money will be part of the discussion -- especially during a slumping economy and with a budget that is tweaked almost daily to keep it balanced after an earlier, across-the-board pay cut of 7.5 percent for all county employees.

Even if the state were to approve Navarro County for courthouse restoration money, the county would have to come up with 20 percent of the cost as matching money for the program.

Judge Bristol said some work already done, such as recent roof repairs, would qualify as "in kind" funding for the 20 percent and other sources of funds might be able to be found.

"That's why I wanted to have this public meeting," he said. "I want this to be above board and out in the open.

"I just think we've patched and patched and patched for too long and now it's time to consider fixing (the courthouse) right."

Corsicana Daily Sun

 


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