County departments return to courthouse

Published 7:46 am Saturday, November 4, 2017

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader

After weeks of assessments on the historical courthouse building, Monday will be moving day as departments return to their offices.

Judge Stephen Brint Carlton led a public workshop, on Friday, in the Orange County Commissioners Court to discuss with county personnel the transition into the County Courthouse.

The courthouse is a historically designated building and was under repair prior to Hurricane Harvey. Although the building did not suffer directly from flooding caused by the hurricane, there was water intrusion that forced department personnel from the building into outlying locations until the final inspectors report was received.

“The inspection is complete and we have received the final report. There are no structural issues but there are cosmetic repairs needed,” Carlton said. “We have been trying to go as fast as we can assessing repair needs in order to transition personnel into their offices without jeopardizing funding sources.”

SpawGlass is the designated contractor that will make the needed repairs and said it may take several months to complete the entire project.

Nevertheless, the commissioners has determined the building safe and habitable, therefore beginning Monday, November 6, county personnel will begin to occupy their offices, starting with the County Clerk, Collections, and Court Administrator, with other departments and courts to follow in the coming days.

The county Management Information System (MIS) team will ensure phones and internet connectivity are operational prior to the move and Sheriff Keith Merritt committed county jail trustees for the coming week, or for as long as needed, to assist with the move.

Merritt assured the court trustees will be managed by a Deputy and Court Bailiff.

The District Court Clerk and District Attorney’s offices will require approximately a three week wait to ensure their offices have been sufficiently repaired prior to move in.

The largest single item needing attention to the building is possible replacement of the ninety-seven windows in the historical structure.

After approval is received from the State and the windows are repaired or replaced, the plaster damage around them will be attended to.

Carlton made it clear that departments can move in on schedule starting Monday and work around the noise and disruption as repairs progress, or each affected department can remain in place where they are until repairs are completed, which “could be months from now.”

All three departments set for a Monday move-in enthusiastically endorsed the mov