Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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March 27, 2013

Back to the Future:

County hears courthouse renovation/restoration spiels

By CHRIS AGEE

Palo Pinto County Commissioners heard two presentations during Monday's session, both detailing services designed to renovate and restore the historic Palo Pinto County Courthouse.

Justin Gilmore of Level 5 Design Group explained he met with two commissioners and discussed electrical modifications, such as adding an emergency generator backup system to the building.

"We do a lot of county and municipal work," Gilmore said of the firm, noting the process, if approved, would be broken down into two phases.

The first step would be choosing someone to conduct an analysis determining the actual electrical needs of the courthouse. He explained contracts for such services must be first based on the qualifications of the prospective candidate and a price for the project can be negotiated later.

Commissioners can reject any fee they feel is unreasonable, Gilmore added, and return to the selection process.

Judge David Nicklas suggested a request for qualifications be added to the next regular court agenda and commissioners did not act on the item Monday.

Another firm, Architexas, was represented Monday and two principles with the firm presented a plan of action to renovate the courthouse using funds from the Texas Historical Commission Courthouse Preservation Program.

"Our firm specializes in historical preservation primarily," said Craig Melde.

Stanley Graves explained that expertise has often been used to bring state courthouses back to their former condition.

"Texas has a unique collection of courthouses," he said, noting many were demolished during the 1950s and 1960s before a law was passed requiring the Texas Historical Commission be notified prior to demolishing or selling a county courthouse.

Graves noted the law does not apply to upkeep, however.

During a survey of the 50 oldest courthouses in the state, he said his firm found many were in terrible condition. Then-Gov. George Bush and the state legislature used the report in creating the Courthouse Preservation Program.

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