Courthouse reconstruction continues

During their meeting on Monday morning, Feb. 13, the Nolan County Commissioners approved two contracts with Wigington, Hooker and Jeffrey Architects toward repairs and reconstruction of the Nolan County Courthouse and construction of a jail and possible offices for the county sheriff.The contracts include--for both projects--the estimated budgets, services and responsibilities of the parties. A timeline of both projects was presented, which consisted of evaluating proposed constructions. Involved in the process will be the architects, a construction manager and an owners' representative. Precinct 4 Commissioner Tony Lara will take on the latter role in both contracts.Also discussed regarding the contracts was figuring out basic costs, along with additional services, agent visits and reimbursable services. Any changes made thereafter could prove to be costly.Another major agenda item during the meeting was a discussion held about access to the radio tower building on Nine Mile Mountain. Gary Armstrong, who is part of a group of amateur radio operators in the county, presented that an agreement was made in 1994 between the group and the county regarding their access.The group and their radios provide emergency communications and since 1994, their service has expanded throughout the entire state. Armstrong noted, however, that within the past year, a problem has arisen in that he and the group no longer have access to the tower to repair the system unless they notify the Sheriff's Office to unlock the area, which is typically at random hours.He stated that his agreement was made with the county and not the Sheriff's Office. Armstrong noted that he feels that the department, on occasions, has not met their request to access in a timely manner, sometimes waiting over an hour.Nolan County Sheriff David Warren voiced his concerns that the tower is overloaded, but that the agreement was made in 1995 in regards to one tower. Previous problems with doors and gates being left open led to the involvement of the Sheriff's Office, who has also taken upon maintenance responsibilities.Warren presented his areas of concern, in that at the rate of 70 miles per hour (MPH), the maximum antenna should be six; at 90 MPH, no more than four should be available. He stated that in 1998, unauthorized equipment was added, and that the overload on the tower is a liability issue. Warren also cited that since the Sheriff's Office took charge and changed the entry keys on site, no problems have been reported.As the issue was just discussion-only between Armstrong, Warren and the commissioners--who hoped the matter could be resolved specifically between the two parties, no action could be taken on the matter.In addition, Sheriff Warren gave the annual racial profiling report from his department, which notes the ethnicities and results from traffic stops, citations and arrests. No racial profiling was reported, as no complaints against the Nolan County Sheriff's Office were filed in 2011. The commissioners then approved the annual report.Also approved was the purchase of a new Dell server for the County Clerk's office by the commissioners, following recent and continual problems with the current server. The purchase will be covered by the records management fund.The County Clerk also received approval to reimburse the county for repairs to the storage house. The total cost will be split, thus amounting to around $10,000.Furthermore, while the date is still unknown, approval was given for the County Clerk to lease election equipment from ES&S prior to the state's primary scheduled for this spring. Leasing the equipment is necessary in order to have enough equipment for the primary.Additional approval was given to adopt the redistricting map for the county which was prepared by the Guinn and Morrison firm. Slight changes--resulting from changes in the 2010 Census--were noted from the previous map.The commissioners also approved to pay one-third of the cost for the repairs to the Pioneer City/County Museum, limited to $10,000. The main repairs are in the overhangs and rotting woodwork, which prove to be costly due to the difficulty of the repairs.More approval from the commissioners was given for the reappointments of Richard Smola as a county appointee and Kathy Rainey as a joint appointee to the Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium Board, along with the appointment of Leah Andrews as a county appointee. Andrews will fill the spot vacated by Ken Becker through February 2013, while Smola and Rainey will serve a two year term ending in February 2014.The burn ban in Nolan County was lifted for the next two weeks, and reports from the Nolan County Tax Office, Treasurer, Clerk, Sheriff's Office, Auditor and the Government Trapper were received and approved. The minutes from the January 23, 2012 meeting were approved as well.One item, however, was tabled--the approval of a contract between Nolan County and the West Texas Centers for the purchase of competency and sanity evaluations--in order to further review of the contract.