Court Bailiff Bill Lazenby said he and Commissioner Carlos Salazar worked together to have the courtrooms partially carpeted, working to beat a deadline for using grant funds from the Texas Historical Commission.
The bailiff said he called Sharon E. Fleming, assistant director of the Historical Commission’s Courthouse Preservation Department, about getting approval for the project.
County Clerk Mirella Escamilla Davis had already received Fleming’s permission to have carpet installed in her offices, so Lazenby asked Fleming if the same carpet could be installed in the large and small courtrooms, since it had already been approved for part of the historic building.
Lazenby said the color of the carpet is a good match for the existing woodwork and paint in the courtrooms.
Fleming agreed, and Salazar put in the order for about $7,000 in new carpet.
“We were able to save about $2,400 by ordering the carpet for the courtrooms and the clerk’s office at the same time,” Lazenby said.
The carpet was installed by Wilton’s, a local flooring contractor, in the large courtroom first.
The installation of the carpet in the smaller courtroom was completed last week.
Lazenby said about half the cost of the project was paid by the Historical Commission, and the county picked up the rest of the cost.
“It should greatly help the acoustics problems in both courtrooms,” Lazenby said. Echoing problems and creaking wooden floors have made it hard for jurors and court officials to hear testimony at times.
Lazenby said the carpet was not installed in the jury boxes or in the seating areas, but the front portions of both rooms were carpeted.
He said the noise generally created by spectators and witnesses walking in the rooms during trials and other events should be reduced considerably now.
“We’ll see how the judges like it,” Lazenby said.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.