Six months after announcing plans to spend a budget surplus of more than $1.2 million on improvements to some of Grayson County’s infrastructure, the Commissioners Court recently received an update on how the work is progressing.
“I think it’s real important that when you tell folks you’re going to do something as elected officials, I want to make sure that we follow through,” County Judge Bill Magers said. “These were deferred maintenance issues — rather than building new buildings, we’re making these last. These are little things, but when folks come to Grayson County, we get one chance to make a first impression, and I think it’s real important that we do those things.”
County Maintenance Director Gregg Allen went through the list of work for commissioners, highlighting planned items such as a $40,000 replacement of the chairlift at the Grayson County Courthouse and a $40,000 remodel of the county clerk’s office, as well as completed work like the $30,000 spent on new carpeting for the building’s courtrooms and more than $31,000 spent on work on the floors and partitions at the Justice Center.
“We had a list of things that had come up in the budget session last year that the court approved to get done,” Allen said.
Magers said the courtrooms likely hadn’t been updated in 20 years.
“If you look at them, they really, really look nice,” Magers said of the work done to the courtrooms. “That’s a snapshot of Grayson County a lot of people get. We didn’t build a new courtroom, we just did some deferred maintenance on the one we had.”
Among the planned work, Allen said construction on the county clerk’s office is expected to begin in the next two months or so. Magers said that work will make the office more automated and, therefore, accessible to Grayson County’s residents.
The county judge was also excited about the planned replacement of the courthouse’s chairlift, which was utilized by Commissioner Bart Lawrence last year after returning from a serious car wreck in October 2015.
“Bart had a very serious accident over a year ago, it nearly cost him his life,” Magers said, explaining the courthouse isn’t fully compatible with the Americans with Disabilities Act as it was built in 1932. “I’m not sure when the ADA went into effect, but I will promise you that chairlift was bought the day after. One of the things that we felt that we needed to do was make this place more accessible and we’ve done that with some things.”
Allen said he was holding off on some of the other items on the list because there have been a lot of work going into the $200,000 relocation of the dispatch center for the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office.
“Things are going outstanding,” Sheriff Tom Watt told commissioners. “We appreciate the good work they’re doing and pleased with the progress we’re making.”
Allen said work for the dispatch move is about 95 complete, with the physical relocation scheduled for May 2.
“The sheriff and I are committed to making sure we make this thing last,” Magers said. “One of the reasons we’re moving, is it’s going to make the jail more functional and provide a longer life and give our dispatch a little more room. Over time, that has grown and we’re doing a pretty good job with what we’ve got.”
Among the other major repair items on Allen’s list, the $170,000 cleaning of the exterior of the courthouse is expected to get underway in June and the $220,000 roof replacement for the Justice Center is scheduled for June and July after the area’s rainy season is complete. A planned $100,000 in improvements to the North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field is still ongoing with about 10 percent of the work completed.
Magers said while all of the planned improvements are one-time capital expenses, they’re ultimately beneficial for the county and its citizens.
“The retail center of this courthouse is really the basement and the first floor, that’s where everything really happens, where people come and go,” Magers said. “By making that ADA compatible, it’s going to help 90 percent of the people that come to the courthouse.”