State to do courthouse walk-through

December 12, 2012

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Susan Gammage with the Texas Historical Commission (THC) will be coming to town next week to conduct a walk-through inspection of the courthouse one year after completion of the largely state-funded restoration project.

Although the THC and county officials butted heads during the restoration project, Precinct 4 Commissioner Steve Berry said that Gammage’s walk-through is basically a formality, and that he does not expect any problems. Berry took a leading role during the almost three-year-long project because the courthouse is in his precinct. His family has a long history of county service.

County Judge Darrell Cockerham also indicated that he does not expect any issues to come up during the walk-through, which will occur between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

“She’ll walk it from top to bottom, just to make sure that our punch-out list was complete,” Berry said. “The emails (from her) have been very user friendly and asked if we could have a commissioner or the (county) judge available.”

Berry said that the architect and others involved in the work will also be present. He added that Gammage has asked to take photos of the Christmas decorations in the second floor courtroom.

The commissioner indicated that bad blood is now in the past.

“They had a job to do. We had a job to do. It’s a give and take, and some people didn’t get what they wanted,” he said. “I hold no ill feelings toward them.”

acoustical problems

It is still not known when the Commissioners Court will deal with acoustics issues in the second floor courtroom that make it difficult to discern what people are saying. Cockerham, who conducts probate hearings there, said that acoustics continue to pose headaches.

Some months ago, the decision was made to move Commissioners Court meetings back to the Justice Center because of sound quality at the courthouse.

The Commissioners Court did not follow the THC recommendations about acoustical plaster in the courtroom when the renovation was under way because it would have cost the county an additional $40,000 to $50,000. The project involved a $5 million grant from the state, but the county’s match kept going ever higher.

Berry said the decision was made not to spend that money because “no one told us 100 percent that it would solve the problem,” he said.

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