PALO PINTO – With a couple of wrinkles easily ironed out, Palo Pinto County commissioners on Friday approved a deal to acquire the former Bank of America building in Mineral Wells and begin turning it into a secondary government center, providing full county services.
The deal involved trading the Poston’s Building and parking lot on North Oak Avenue downtown, which has been a county annex with some county services, and $1.3 million cash to NSC Properties. The Postons lots carry a purchase value of $450,000.
In turn, the commissioners approved and executed a nine-month lease with Opp Zone Mineral Wells Inc. to keep its current county offices in the Poston’s building through Oct. 31 at a cost of $4,000 a month, covering rent and property taxes. The county will also carry $1 million property and $1 million personal death/injury liability insurance coverages and $450,000 in property insurance through the end of the lease.
Should the county need more time before moving offices from the Postons, the agreement will covert to a month-to-month lease with 30-days termination notice.
“The next step is hopefully to hire an architect and start looking at plans on how we are going to remodel the building,” County Judge Shane Long said after signing the necessary papers with attorney Phil Garrett on Friday. “Hopefully we will get started on that and we will be in there first of next year or late this year.”
Commissioners hope to host voting for the November general election in the new county building.
A meeting is set for 9 a.m. Thursday at the courthouse in Palo Pinto to select an architect for the project and to create and appoint a building committee. Executive session is also on the agenda to discuss economic development.
“Our due diligence that we have put into it and investigation into what it might look like for us has been a long haul but the real work is fixing to begin,” Long said of the property acquisition. “I anticipate we will be having quite a few commissioners court meetings to get this all going in the right direction. But I believe once we get an architect on board and we start getting some bids out on the construction you will see some things moving pretty quick.”
County department heads who will have offices in the new county government center have been asked what they will need as far as space and other requirements. Their inputs will be used by the architect to help design a remodeling plan.
Commissioners have for several years been exploring and planning for expansion, mainly to ease office crowding in the main courthouse. But they see other benefits, especially with the decision to offer full county services in Mineral Wells, where about 60 percent of the county’s population resides.
“I think the main benefits are, number one for me, the security of this building (the main courthouse), making this mainly a courts building, although we are still going to provide tax and county clerk offices here for the public, we are going to have full services here,” Long said. “This will remain the county seat, that is not changing.
“I think it is a big thing to be able to provide full services for the tax office and then also services from the county clerk’s office to the citizens of Mineral Wells. I think it overall is just a win-win all the way around for the county and the city. I am hoping that we can cooperate with the city, maybe provide them some space in there for some needed services that they many want to provide out of that building also so it seems like a win-win all the way around for Palo Pinto County.”
Motor vehicle registration, Pct. 5 justice of the peace, Pct. 5 constable and juvenile probation offices are currently located in the Postons Building.
The bank property was purchased by NSC Properties after Mineral Wells voters rejected a proposal to purchase the property and convert it into a new city hall.