Williamson County commissioners allocate about half of remaining capital improvement allotment for fiscal year 2018-19

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The Williamson County Commissioners Court approved about $2.8 million in capital improvement projects, including a remodel of the Justice Center, on Feb. 12.

“I think this is what we needed yesterday, and we need to go forward with this, but I think we need to have an idea of what we need tomorrow,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Russ Boles said. “We need to have a plan, make some choices so that [county departments]know what the future looks like as well.”

The court had about $5.2 million in unallocated capital improvement funding to put toward maintenance and operation projects. About $2.5 million of the newly allocated $2.8 million will go toward renovations of the Justice Center, located at 405 Martin Luther King Jr. St., Georgetown.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long agreed to lead a team of elected officials to discuss the scope and specifics of the center’s improvements from a list of requested items. Requested improvements include an employee break room remodel, a grand jury restroom remodel, a remodel of the district attorney’s office and a remodel of the second floor, among other items. The team will give recommendations to the court by July 1.

A portion of the allotted money will seek security recommendations conducted by the National Center for State Courts. The court approved the agreement with the NCSC for $23,350 at the request of the district judges, district attorney, county attorney, district clerk and county clerk.

“The Justice Center is a place for people from hard places. This building sees the worst life has to offer. This building sees people living in fear, desperate and emotional. Oftentimes, this is the worst day of their life,” said District Judge Betsy Lambeth of the 425th District. “The last thing we want is for people to come into his building and be victims of violence.”

The court started the fiscal year with approximately $18.47 million. About $2.4 million remains unallocated to be used on future improvement items that may need to be addressed before the end of fiscal year 2018-19.

County Judge Bill Gravell asked, and the court agreed, to set aside $250,000 to repair a gas line to the county courthouse, located at 710 S. Main St., Georgetown. The total cost of the project is unknown.

An additional $250,000 was approved for improvements to the sheriff’s office and jail.

“It’s about remodeling our existing facilities,” Gravell said. “The sheriff’s office needs to be remodeled, and there are things that need to occur within our sheriff’s office if we continue to occupy that space.”

In addition, Boles also agreed to work with Director of Emergency Services Chris Connealy to review and come to the court with recommendations on what improvements can be made to the Taylor Emergency Management Services station. The two will make a recommendation to the court by July 1.

“It’s a bigger discussion, but the worst of my bad buildings is the EMS building,” Boles said.

In other business:

  • The court recognized four new members of the Williamson County Emergency Services communication team. The new employees went through eight weeks or 320 hours training for the job. The county is still working on the configuration of a new EMS training space that was funded by the court in the fiscal year 2018-19 budget.
  • The court approved February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. One in 3 teens in middle and high school report experiencing physical violence in their teen dating relationships, and 1 in 10 students will commit suicide due to teen dating violence, said Thomas Velez, protective order attorney for Williamson County. Members of the court and county employees wore orange in an effort to raise awareness on the issue.
  • Lauren Harmon was named the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service 4-H youth development agent. Harmon will be responsible for program planning, implementation and evaluation, among other duties. She will begin Mach 4.

The Williamson County Commissioners Court recognized four new employees of the Emergency Management Services team Feb. 12.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court recognized February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month on Feb. 12. They and county employees wore orange to bring awareness.

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Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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