Grayson County crossed another improvement project of its list this week with the successful relocation of the Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 to the Grayson County Courthouse. The move took Judge Larry Atherton’s office out of its longtime home in the Grayson County Justice Center and to the courthouse, where it now occupies the building’s old law library.
“For the first time in 30 years we have a working JP court in the courthouse,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said.
Magers said the conversation around needed capital improvement projects began at least three years ago with the realization that the county wasn’t making the best use of its spaces.
“It’s part of an overall strategic plan to make utilization of our county assets,” Magers said. “Essentially, we’re using what we have and we’re not going out and building new buildings.”
Magers said the county identified the Judge RC Vaughan Law Library as the first domino that needed to tip in order to improve facilities for the JP, the district clerk’s office and the district attorney’s office.
“Books went away and computers came into vogue,” Magers said. “So what we determined was that the law library was really bigger than it needed to be.”
The county moved the law library across the courthouse’s second floor from the north side to the south side in late October. Once the legal library relocated, the county then began its $24,000 remodel of the old library space.
With the legal library renovated and the JP’s office settled into its new home, Magers said the county will turn its focus to improving the offices in the justice center, which he said haven’t seen significant remodels or updates since opening in the 1980s.
“This frees up space for us to expand the district clerk’s office in the front and make them more retail friendly,” Magers said. “And then, we’ll redesign the district attorney’s office to make them more efficient.”
The expansion and remodel of both offices is expected to cost approximately $94,000.
But the largest and most expensive of the 2017-2018 improvement projects remains the remodel of the courthouse’s fourth floor. Magers said the $303,000 project will transform the floor, which formerly served as the county jail, into new offices for GCSO investigators. The county judge added that the project is expected to have at least one other benefit.
“We will now have law enforcement officials coming and going through the courthouse 24/7,” Magers said. “This will provide us security without having to hire an armed guard.”
It was unclear when the remodel of the district clerk’s office, the DA’s office and the courthouse’s fourth floor would be complete. The county’s 2017-2018 capital improvements list is rounded out by $85,000 worth of concrete replacements at Loy Lake and two new air-conditioning units at the justice center for a combined $120,000. The total cost for all improvement projects is estimated at $626,000.
Magers said he fells the projects are a wise investment and that they will show both taxpayers and county officials that Grayson County can make the most of its facilities.
“Moving forward, we should be able to make the space we have today last a whole lot longer,” Magers said.