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Gregg County to add parking at rodeo arena

By Glenn Evans
Feb. 13, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Gregg County commissioners agreed Monday to provide labor, asphalt and equipment for additional parking spaces at the rodeo arena the city is renovating.

The Longview City Council moved in December to spend $892,000 to replace structurally failing bleachers at the arena and replace them with new seating for 5,060 people. The renovation also includes new lighting and an announcer's booth.

Assistant City Manager Chuck Ewings subsequently asked the county for the parking lot help.

The work the court OK'd Monday is worth $84,000, but the materials already are in hand and county road crews may be used under a mutual aid contract between the two governments.

The work should produce about 850 parking spots, the city estimates.

Pct. 4 crews will begin work as soon as the weather permits, Commissioner John Mathis said after the meeting.

Commissioner Darryl Primo also said he would support the county paying to put a roof on the arena, which so far is not in the city's plans.

"If you listen to the rodeo people, that was their No. 1 thing," Primo said, recalling input from discussions last summer over a more elaborate multi-events center.

Also Monday, commissioners learned the local highway planning group has secured state funding to study potential routes for part of a highway connecting South Tyler, North Longview and North Marshall.

Funded by a $1.5 million Texas Department of Transportation allocation, the study will focus on the eastern portions of the so-called, East Texas Hourglass.

Consultant Kim Sachtleben told commissioners the study will be looking for "the best corridors" providing the most benefit. That will be based, in part, on where populations are growing such as north of Longview.

"These aren't determined routes at this point," she said after throwing a rough schematic of the long-term project on a screen. "It just depends on what the needs are, where the needs are and what the constraints are."

She said a final report to the East Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which is shepherding the long-range project, should be ready by the end of the year. Mobility authority official David Spurrier told commissioners a similar study previously was funded by TxDOT for the hourglass' western Smith County path.

Finally, commissioners were unanimous in agreeing to add the county's growing information technology network to the items that regularly are audited by an outside firm.

"We have some systems that need to have expert reviews," County Auditor Laurie Woloszyn told the court, recommending audits every two or three years at an estimated cost of $15,000 to $18,000.



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