Commissioners approve Cell Block Museum study

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

September 15, 2022

The Hill County Commissioners Court met in a special session Tuesday, September 6, and approved a structural study of the Hill County Cell Block Museum.

The museum was formerly the county jail and was completed in 1893 by W.C. Dodson, who also designed the courthouse. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a newly installed museum board of directors is working to repair and reopen it to the public.

Hill County Judge Justin Lewis said that the northeast corner of the building was lifted around 2010 after it settled. The south side now needs to be lifted, but the judge said that he believes a structural engineer needs to look at the building.

The firm Architexas, which has experience with historic structures, including Dodson’s work, provided a proposal for an analysis of the existing structure, an evaluation of any code issues and a list of prioritized long-term improvements needed.

Cost of the survey and report will be approximately $28,000, with the survey estimated to take one month and the stabilization report provided in one month.

Any proposed construction will come back before the court for consideration after the study.

Commissioners also reviewed a proposed pay scale for the county’s road and bridge employees in each precinct. The court and a committee have been working over the last few weeks to create a salary schedule that is uniform from precinct to precinct and compensates employees for their specific skills and job duties.

No employee will lose pay under the change, but some positions will receive an increase under the plan to streamline employee compensation.

Commissioners were expected to vote on the proposal this week after reviewing the plan.
The court considered two variance requests from Rusty Simmons for the Longview Creek Ranch subdivision on HCR 4307.

Simmons requested to construct a chip seal road instead of the asphalt road required in the county’s subdivision regulations. He also requested to place more distance between cul-de-sacs, which are required at every 1,000 feet on dead end streets to accommodate emergency vehicles.

The court denied the variance request related to the cul-de-sacs, but the road request passed by a vote of 3-2 with Judge Lewis and Commissioner Andy Montgomery voting against the variance, expressing a desire to adhere to the adopted regulations.

In other action, the court lifted the county’s burn ban, approved a change order for security upgrades on the new AgriLife Extension office, approved Hill County Treasurer-elect Rachel Parker’s attendance at the 2022 New Treasurer’s Seminar, and approved the purchase of a vehicle for the information technology department with savings that the department has created by performing work in-house.

Commissioners will hold a budget workshop Monday, September 12, at 8:30 a.m. as the county’s budget for the coming fiscal year is finalized.

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