Upshur County is hoping for a multi-million dollar grant to renovate its 83-year-old courthouse.
Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday showing the county supports an application to the Texas Historical Commission, which has opened its latest grant application period.
The commission plans to allot $25 million this fiscal term for grant renovations, and Upshur County is in the running, Judge Todd Tefteller said.
The application must be submitted by April 15.
Efforts to renovation the courthouse in downtown Gilmer are “something this county has been working on since, from what I understand, 2002, and I think we need to do this,” the judge said. “I’m trying to put in some reasons why we should be in serious contention for this. One of them is that this building has been here for 83 years.
“It has seen a lot of storms, both physical and geopolitical,” Tefteller continued. “I don’t want to see it retired, so we can’t afford not to do this.”
If Upshur County was approved for a grant of as much as $18 million, the county would have to put up a $2 million match, which Tefteller called “a good problem to have.”
Other Northeast Texas courthouses that have seen renovations through Texas Historical Commission grants are in Marion and Franklin counties, he added.
“I’ve been told we are one of the four serious contenders at this point,” Tefteller said, though he added, “Don’t get your hopes up. ... What hurts us is we don’t have a lot of historical houses in Gilmer.”
Commissioners on Tuesday also approved a 7% increase in salary and benefits for resource officers working in schools in Upshur County.
All schools in the county must be notified by today.
Total salary and benefits for each officer will increase to $50,757 from the current $47,450. That amount is paid by the school districts, though the county subsidizes some vehicle fuel costs.
Pct. 4 Commissioner Jay Miller asked his colleagues whether there were alternatives for schools that say that they can’t afford the increase.
Tefteller answered that any school that feels it “can’t absolutely afford it” can talk with him or Sheriff Larry Webb to work something out, including using the officers on a part-time basis. The judge also reminded the court that schools have the authority to create their own police force.
“I want to make it clear that this board is in full support of having school resource officers in place,” Tefteller said.