The San Saba County Commissioners Court held a Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, October 13th at 7 p.m. to discuss the restoration of the County Courthouse. Judge Byron Theodosis welcomed the group and Clay Nettleship gave the invocation.
Judge Theodosis gave a review of what has been done to “fix” the stately historic courthouse and Attorney David Williams also supplied information. In February, 2000 the county paid $25,000 for an extensive Master Plan that the San Saba County Historical Commission helped supply information. Judge Theodosis held up the thick black notebook Master Plan that gives information and photos of what the Courthouse looked like before it was “modernized” and recommendations.
At the present time the Texas Historical Commission has offered San Saba County a Planning Grant in the amount of $323,298 with San Saba County supplying $57,000. This would provide an extensive plan including blueprints and the estimated amount of what the cost would be to restore the Courthouse.
In February 2000, the estimated cost to restore the Courthouse was two to three million dollars. An estimate to “patch up” and just do repairs was 1.7 million dollars.
Flora Vasquez, the county courthouse janitor, gave a report of some of the problems at the Courthouse including bad light switches, heating and A/C problems, wiring, roof leaks, and problems with computers working correctly. Judge Theodosis mentioned the speaker system in the Courtroom is insufficient and creates problems of hearing. He also discussed the high cost of utilities.
Citizens in attendance asked questions and gave concerns, and Judge Theodosis read a list of questions by Tommy Pulatie. The main concern was where the money would come from because of the economy and already high taxes. Other questions were about the grant, the input of a committee, what would happen to the vintage furniture; if the ownership would change from the county; how the donations would be given through a 501 C 3; and how the general public can be better informed.
It was explained that this is not a government grant or loan, that the State of Texas Historical Commission will also have a grant for the Restoration. There’s a possibility that the county’s portion would be around the amount that it would cost to just do repairs. The committee will definitely have an input; the furniture and etc. will be saved and implemented; the Courthouse will remain in the County’s ownership; donations will be tax deductible through 501 C3. This is not a step that will be voted on by citizens. The Commissioners Court will decide by their vote. The Town Hall meetings were held so that the Commissioners will know what the county people want and for them to be informed.
The final stage of construction, which will be in 3 to 4 years, could cost the county a 1 million dollar match for the 5 million that the state will provide; before the Commissioners' Court commits to this final stage, there will be a county wide vote by all citizens.
Stan Weik, City Manager, summed up the meeting by asking if there is a better plan and the fact that the building has to be fixed. There are new businesses coming in which will help with the county economy and a brand new restored court house would generate tourism.