Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

January 28, 2013

County receives project grant

By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — The Navarro Community Foundation has given a grant of $137,500 to help fund the Navarro County Courthouse Restoration project.

The grant was officially accepted by commissioners at their Monday business meeting.

The grant will help establish a budget for the project for the current year, and will help fund the bid preparation project underway along with other costs leading up to the actual work.

Bruce Robinson, speaking on behalf of the foundation, said the grant was “an easy grant for us to make.”

Robinson said the courthouse restoration program is one of the kinds of projects the grant was established to help fund — the maintenance and beautification of public buildings.

“The restoration and preservation of the Navarro County Courthouse falls right in the ‘wheelhouse’ of what Mr. Drane asked us to do 75 years ago,” when the fund was established, he said.

“We want to see this happen, and we’re happy to provide this initial funding,” Robinson said.

County Judge H.M. Davenport Jr. said the grant awarded by the Navarro Community Foundation is a show of support for the plan to restore the courthouse.

“Since we had not budgeted anything for (the project) ... this gives us a little ‘shot in the arm’ to cover the initial funding for the bidding process, the architect, the civil engineering that lets us get it to bid and get our numbers.”

Davenport said the bid packet preparation is underway now. Getting bids from contractors for the work will help the county figure out how much more money it will have to come up with to go forward with the restoration on top of the state award.

The Texas Historical Commission has given Navarro County a $4.4 million grant to help fund the restoration of the 100-year-old courthouse. The county had previously received a planning grant of approximately $500,000.

The total project, not including the costs of planning, or temporary housing for courthouse operations during the 30-month project, has been estimated to cost about $9.8 million according to figures from the Texas Historic Commission and the Navarro County Auditor. Those costs are still subject to change once the bidding process begins.

Also not included in the projected costs — the establishment of a permanent courthouse annex to house some county functions that might not return to a restored courthouse. Several proposed drawings of the restored courthouse have eliminated some offices currently housed in the courthouse, and has been the subject of continued discussions with the project’s architect for revision.

Commissioners meeting briefs

Consent agenda approved

  Minutes of previous meetings, payment of bills, training certifications and budget amendments were approved on the consent agenda.



No burn ban

  Commissioners voted to take no action on any burn ban. Most KBDI readings are at 300 or less for the county, and more rain is forecast this week, commissioners said.



Reports approved

  Commissioners approved the monthly reports from County Treasurer Frank Hull, County Tax Assessor/Collector Russell Hudson, and County Auditor Kathy Hollomon at Monday’s meeting.



Items declared salvage

  At the request of Pct. 1 Commissioner Jason Grant and Pct. 3 Commissioner David “Butch” Warren, several old radios and pieces of equipment were declared salvage for the purpose of disposing of them. They no longer have any value to the county.



Use of inmates clarified

  At the request of Sheriff Elmer Tanner, commissioners approved the use of county inmate labor for public service projects. Inmates have been used for many years doing service for projects such as the Youth Expo, the Navarro County Food Pantry Ministry, and the County-wide Clean-Up day. Tanner told commissioners the law required them to approve the use of inmate labor for non-profit organizations as a “public service.” Commissioners gave Tanner the go-ahead for using the inmate labor, with the commissioners being consulted if any question should arise.



Courthouse security to be evaluated

  Sheriff Tanner requested $500 from the courthouse security fund to pay for a security analysis of courthouse safety and safety procedures. The overview will be conducted by Tim Quintana, adjunct professor at Sam Houston State University.



Jail food vendor saves county money

  Sheriff Tanner gave an update on the use of Five Star Food Service to provide food service to the Navarro County Jail. Tanner reported that he had verified with the county auditor that the county has saved “in excess of $120,000” in the past year through the use of the vendor, and that the vendor was providing satisfactory service to the county.



Public WiFi service approved

  Citing numerous requests for the availability of WiFi Internet service, commissioners approved a proposal from AT&T to install a WiFi Internet access point for the public. The service will have no connection to any county resources or computers, only provide a pathway to the Internet for visitors to the courthouse.



Audit engagement letter approved

  Commissioners authorized County Auditor Kathy Hollomon to sign an engagement letter with Pattillo, Brown and Hill to conduct the county audit for FY 2012.



HIDTA procedures approved

  Commissioners approved a Dallas County Court Order accepting assets purchased by the North Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area for use by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office. The funds are passed through Navarro County for use by the drug enforcement agency and is at no cost to the county.

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Bob Belcher may be reached by email at bbelcher@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com