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More money allotted for county building projects

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Attorney fees nearing $100,000
JOEY DAUBEN
The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE - Even the historic county courthouse is not without flaws.

Since May, county commissioners have approved more changes in the design, construction and work being done at the Ellis County Detention Center and courthouse.

The litigation dealing with issues revolving around the non-voter-approved Ellis County Justice Center has resulted in attorney fees of almost $100,000.

'Ellis County has spent $88,295.37 on attorney fees related to the justice center and detention center,' said County Auditor Mike Na-varro.

'These funds were taken out of professional fees in the [Tax Anticipation Note] projects and legal fees in the general fund.'

From new stone floors to window leaks, the county's three projects have seen its share of construction workers.

The courthouse, under recommendations by its general contractor and the Texas Historical Commission, has undergone several cost increases. Originally, $7,242, 799 was allotted to the courthouse. With additional work orders, the cost jumps to almost $8 million.

According to County Engineer Joe White, the recommendations from the THC cost less than if the

courthouse's general contractor Thomas S. Byrne, were still on the job.

County Judge Chad Adams did point out, however, money being used for the additional work was already in the county's budget.

'The state has $300,000 that as soon as we complete this, they're going to give it to us,' he said.

The courthouse change orders, $19,500 for stonework and $4,164 for doors - were approved recently.

Detention, Justice Center

Since a lawsuit forced the halt of construction on the Ellis County Justice Center last year, focus has turned to the jail addition, constructed as a result of state mandates.

The annex has undergone numerous concrete work and has had heavy leaks. Recently, water poured from a ceiling and down the front door of Sheriff Lt. Danny Williams' office - this, officials said, was the result of shoddy construction work.

Earlier this year, crews began to unearth parts of the sidewalk, due to the sheriff's armory being constantly flooded.

The county has since filed a lawsuit against the general contractor and architects of both centers.

Though comment from the county's side has been minimal due to ongoing litigation, Judge Adams did say issues won't be fully resolved until at least the middle part of next year.

'As far as that goes, we'll just have to wait and see,' he said.

In 1999, Al Cornelius, county judge at the time, authorized the use of Tax Anticipation Notes to fund the Ellis County Justice Center, a project voters denied twice at the polls.

Money was also used to fund the jail construction, another project that angered taxpayers.


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