By this time a year from now, Granbury and Hood County may look quite a bit different.
Projects that got started in 2012 are expected to be finished, or well under way, by the end of 2013. Some of those projects include a Cresson bypass, airport expansion, a county recreation center, a possible new animal control building, the extension of Loop 567 and renovation of the Opera House.
New projects for Granbury include a skateboard park and dog park, expansion of the hike and bike trail, a Visitors Center at the Langdon Center and the possibility of some franchises coming to town.
Granbury City Manager Wayne McKethan said the dog park should be finished by early spring, the Loop extension in May, the skateboard park by mid-summer and the Opera House by August.
Manufacturing businesses and franchises are looking good, he said, but the negotiations are too preliminary to release details.
“Things are beginning to happen,” he said. “We’re really close to breaking out, I think.”
County Judge Darrell Cockerham provided details on what he expects to happen with county projects in 2013:
the rec center
Approved by voters in November, the $10 million, county-owned rec center will be completed within a year to 18 months, Cockerham predicts. The first few months of the year, he said, will see architectural drawings and the Granbury Independent School District deeding to the county land the district owns on James Road near Acton Middle School. The judge added that a construction company likely will be selected in the first part of the year.
Plans originally were to use pass-through funding approved by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to widen a stretch of Highway 377 between Business 377 and Highway 144, and also to align the 377/144 intersection. However, it was determined that the Cresson intersection by the railroad tracks is a greater safety issue, so a bypass in Cresson is now number one on the priority list.
Cockerham said that everything is on hold right now while an environmental study is being done, but that TxDOT has been urged to move dirt as quickly as possible. The judge said there is still haggling going on regarding right-of-way acquisitions, but that he expects construction to start in 2013.
In the past couple of months, the Commissioners Court has made noises about building a bigger, more easily accessible animal control facility that might result in more pet adoptions. Alan Magee of Magee Architects in Fort Worth is supposed to present a cost analysis to the court “within the first quarter” of 2013, Cockerham said.
With two new members joining the court, there is no guarantee that a new Animal Control facility will become a reality in 2013.
“I just don’t know how the new court’s going to look upon Animal Control,” Cockerham stated.
courts, computers, chippers
On the front burner for the Commissioners Court is finding a solution to growing challenges for the county’s IT department. The infrastructure of county government is growing, yet the IT department is still crammed into an area of Annex III that once served as a jail.
“It’s an old building, and the roof leaks,” said Cockerham. “The thing was built for a jail and, consequently, it’s not wired for all those computers. We’re going to have to do something with that building or move to another facility.”
Not on the immediate horizon, but coming nevertheless is a need to start planning for additional courts in Hood County. Cockerham said he intends to contact the Texas Office of Court Administration to get the ball rolling on adding an additional district court or county court-at-law.
“Right after the first of the year, I’m going to call and try to get an idea, because it’s not based on population, it’s based on volumes,” the judge said. “I don’t want to get caught flat-footed. I want to look ahead.”
Cockerham said he would like to see the county start grinding up brush rather than burning it on county-owned property on Highway 51.
He said that county officials are looking into purchasing or leasing a wood chipper. “I definitely want to improve the air quality in Hood County,” he said.
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