County commissioners discuss handgun signs at county facilities
Fri, 2017-01-27 05:00 News Staff
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Coryell County commissioners met for the second time in January at a Monday morning meeting to discuss issues affecting Coryell County and to pay bills.
The court discussed a complaint about wrongful exclusion of licensed handgun holders, referring to the signs posted in front of the Coryell County Annex in Copperas Cove that state that weapons, including handguns, cannot be brought in to the building, with an exception for licensed peace officers or others expressly authorized to carry a gun in courts or court offices by statute.
The complaint was submitted to Office of the Attorney General in Austin as well as a letter submitted to the county attorney. The concerned citizen wrote that the Coryell County Annex is considered a multipurpose building and so the law regarding excluding licensed handgun holders should not apply.
County Attorney Brandon Belt responded to both the citizen and the OAG that the signs are not in violation of the law and attached an order signed by the Judges of the Justice of the Peace Offices located at the Coryell County Annex in Copperas Cove, finding that the common areas, hallways and restrooms are essential to the operations of the Courts. There is not a way to allow carrying in any portion of the building without the carrying happening in an area that is essential to court operation, Belt wrote.
The court discussed possible changes regarding the language of the order. Belt suggested changing the language in the order from licensed peace officers to commissioned licensed peace officers to be more clear.
The court discussed possible county facility projects at the different facilities that could be considered for support by Joseph Latteo, of LG Solutions. Latteo put together a building envelope summary plan and solution report for the court, based upon an inspection of all Coryell County facilities during June 2016. The report contained information on each facilities buildings envelope as well as solution options containing the scope of work and estimated budget costs for short-term and long-term solutions.
The facility that was discussed the most was the Coryell County Annex in Copperas Cove, on S 2nd. St, which started as a grocery store 70 years ago, according to Firth. This facility is structurally the worst building in the county, Firth said. The report included recommended solutions including removing and replacing the roof, applying an elastomeric wall coating, as well as replacing some of older furnace and condensing units that are from as far back as 1982.
Many of the problems with the facilities are a result of deferred maintenance over the past 20 years, Firth pointed out. The commissioners have reacted to immediate and issues while deferring other maintenance issues. One example of deferred maintenance is the boiler at the Courthouse, from 1960, Latteo pointed out. The boiler, at 57 years old, has a 35 year life cycle. The county jail, built around 1990, is also facing the end of its life cycle, Latteo said.
There was also discussion around whether it would be better to rebuild a facility or move to a new facility. Firth brought up the Phase 2 of Five Hills Shopping Center and the idea of the empty store fronts that will be left in Cove Terrace when Bealls and other stores move into the Five Hills Shopping Center. The Coryell County Tax Office is located in Cove Terrace already.
Firth said the reason this was on the agenda was to discuss and introduce the two new commissioners to the topic and get an idea for what the court wants to work on this year.
The court approved extending the lifting of the burn ban for unincorporated Coryell County. The court previously approved the ban at their January 9 meeting but County Judge John Firth approved a temporary lifting of the fire ban on January 13 that was set to expire January 23. The court approved extending the lifting of the ban for two more weeks, due to the rain and low threat of wildfires.
The court also approved the leasing of motor graders by the Coryell County Road and Bridge Department instead of purchasing them.
The court approved the pay schedule change for exempt Lieutenants in the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office. There were previously individuals ranked as sergeants who were making more than those who supervise them who are ranked as lieutenants. The lieutenants’ pay was increased to $50,000 to ensure the lieutenants are making more than the sergeants, Firth said.
The court listened to an update on the Coryell County Economic Development Board from board of directors member Eric Kietzer. The board approved several projects at their December meeting, including getting a 1-800 telephone number to be designated and based off the Coryell County Economic Development Board. They also approved the designing and purchasing of business cards for EDB board members to use. The board will also have a 19 -page brochure created to use as a brief outline, with statistics, of what Coryell County has to offer businesses. The board also plans to produce videos, using technology such as drones, to include on the county’s website. The biggest project is upgrading the website for the county, including the EDB webpage, complete with a logo for the county, Kietzer said.
The court accepted 0.163 acres of land near Oak Ridge Rd and Moccasin Bend Rd donated for the Lincolnville Historical Marker.
The court also discussed the state budget being set by Texas legislators in Austin. At $104.87 billion, there is a 2.7 percent decrease in the budget this session compared to last session.
The court received an update on the renovation of the 7th St Annex Courtroom from Don Jones, who said that they were moving furniture in this week. They were also installing fax and DSL lines on Monday, Belt said.
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