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Grant to update Upshur County courthouse

By Christina Lane
Feb. 29, 2012 at 11 p.m.

GILMER - Upshur County Commissioners on Wednesday accepted a $215,000 grant from the Texas Historical Commission to help bring the courthouse into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and opened lease proposals on the county's West Texas school land.

The county's match will be at least $108,000 but could be up to $300,000, County Judge Dean Fowler said.

"We have to make the building ADA-compliant anyway, so it's good for us to be able to use this grant," Fowler said.

Required renovations include correcting a downstairs ramp and installing ADA-accessible bathrooms on the first floor, Fowler said.

The renovations also will help the county's courthouse restoration project - should the state provide a grant to the county that will allow it to restore the courthouse to its 1937 appearance.

Commissioners also appointed Ruth Whiteside, Elaine McKinley and Jill McCauley to a board tasked with overseeing the county's sick leave pool. The pool allows employees to contribute sick time that can be used by other employees who participate in the pool and who have used all of their vacation and sick time.

In other business, commissioners opened lease proposals on the county's school land in West Texas. Upshur County owns about 17,000 acres of school land in Baylor and Throckmorton counties. More than a century ago, the state gave land to each county to benefit school districts. Upshur County retained its land and splits yearly dividends of about $200,000 among the school districts in the county.

Fowler said the county received four proposals for the property.

Young Cattle Company bid $12.87 per acre, per year, and $3 per acre, per year, for improvements. Buffco Production bid $10.95 per acre, per year, and $5 per acre for one year of seismic operations, as well as a royalty agreement. Spade Ranches, which currently leases the property, bid $10.50 per acre, per year, for one tract of land and $13.50 per acre, per year, for a second tract of the land, as well as $3 per acre, per year, for improvements. Calthan Ranches bid $13.70 per acre, per year, and $3 per acre, per year, for improvements.

Commissioners did not award a lease agreement Wednesday, tabling the decision.



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