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Renovating Taylor County courthouses in the works

By Kristen Pope, Reporter, kpope@ktxs.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:41:41 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 24 2013 08:49:50 AM CST
ABILENE, TX -

Renovations to two Taylor County courthouses are in the works.

The plans for improvements to the old and current courthouses are the result of the need for space. It's a three-phase renovation totaling $16.3 million.

County Judge Downing Bolls outlined some of the nuts and bolts on the project during Tuesday's State of the City address.

"The first two phases will deal with the immediate issues dealing with the courthouse and the plaza building," Bolls said. "The renovation to the old courthouse may be years down the road."

Initial funding for the project will come from the county fund reserve. No official date had been established for work to begin.

Bolls said he hopes to transform the current courthouse into a "justice center."

"Everything that has to do with justice will go into this building and get it all in one place," Bolls said.

The old courthouse is the third and last phase of the renovation. It's not just an old building, but it's also a place full of memories.

Taylor County Historical Commission Chairman Anita Lane recalled some special events that happened at the old courthouse.

"I just saw some kids that got married here this afternoon," Lane said.

She said this old courthouse has great purpose for the whole county.

"There are places here that we can store and preserve paper documents that are just valuable to all of us," Lane said.

Meanwhile, Bolls said one of the challenges coming with the project will be keeping prisoners from coming in contact with potential jurors.

During the transition, the county will build a temporary holding cell. Another issue is security. Screening will be moved over to the plaza, which will mean more people will be required to go through scanners.