The public hearing for the Round VII Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program grants took place in Austin on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Members of the Texas Historical Commission listened to presentations from many of the 40 counties who applied for grant funding in this round.
Although a total of $158 million was requested from the 40 counties that applied, the commission can only award a total of $20 million in this round of grant funding.
The Round VII grant awards will be announced at the THC meeting scheduled for Jan. 27.
Sue Carter, representing the Karnes County Historical Commission and Karnes County Historical Society was first to speak for the group from Karnes County.
Carter reported to the commission that restoration work on the Karnes County courthouse has begun with the start of the Phase 1 restoration project in which two wings are being removed in an effort to restore the building to an appearance closer to what it was originally, and also putting a halt to further ongoing structural damage happening as a result of the two parts of the building pulling against one another.
Carter introduced others in attendance including County Commissioners Pete Jauer and Carl Hummel, Truett Lee Hunt, Lewis Fisher, Eric Opiela and others attending in support of Karnes County courthouse restoration efforts.
Carter reminded the commission that a new annex building has been completed and will provide office space for county employees as restoration efforts move forward.
“We want to see this happen, it is really critical for Karnes County,” Carter said.
Architect Lewis Fisher was next to speak and told the commission that the recent bond election which will fund the matching portion of a grant, if one is awarded, passed by a majority of Karnes County voters.
“I am here today to emphasize and tell your committee of the urgency to continue this project in Round VII funding,” Fisher said. “While it is a positive step that the additions that are placing stresses on the historic masonry building are being removed, the foundation of the courthouse remains a severe problem.”
Erica Opiela was next to speak before the commission, reminding the commissioners that efforts to restore the Karnes County courthouse through grant applications have been ongoing for the past twelve years.
“It has gotten to the point where the need can not wait any longer,” Opiela said. “We are not merely in a historical renovation, we are in danger of losing this courthouse. We have moved everyone out of the courthouse and we are in danger of not ever having this courthouse occupied again if the renovation is not completed. We respectfully ask for y’all’s support in Round VII to get this courthouse back functional again.”
See video from this presentation at mysoutex.com.