On April 24, the Ellis County Commissioners Court resolved to build a new 10,200 square foot county facility in Ennis, contingent upon the passage of the facilities bond.
At that meeting, Pct. 2 Commissioner Bill Dodson said the present county facility in Ennis is in poor condition and called the need for better facilities as “particularly urgent.”
Ellis County voters approved the bond issue 3,682 to 3,245 on May 12, and since that time, Dodson, Commissioner Pct. 1 Dennis Robinson and Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Bill Woody have been actively searching out a place for the new $1.25 million facility.
The search may well be over, Dodson said in an interview this week, saying that after looking at a number of sites, Robinson has located an “ideal” location.
“It is an excellent piece of property,” Dodson said, adding that he has spoken with Ennis Mayor Russell Thomas and City Manager Steve Howerton and both are supportive of the location.
While a decision has been made, Dodson stressed it is not yet final. A thorough examination of the property will take place first, the commissioner said.
The site’s location is not yet being made public so as to aid negotiations on the potential purchase, Dodson said, adding that the property’s owners “know what it’s for, and they are working with us.”
In the search and development process for the new facility, the county has worked closely with Thomas, Howerton and other Ennis officials, Dodson said, adding that from their talks, the county decided to abandon its initial designs featuring a southwestern theme, replacing them with a turn-of-the-century appearance at the city’s request.
County engineer Joe White and Dodson have worked to get a preliminary set of architectural drawings done and have devised a basic floor plan for the structure, and Dodson said the city has been helpful in providing information about the property. White also has been examining the location to see if there could be any easement or other issues prior to moving forward to an examination of the title and deed.
Dodson noted he had had a concern about a sewer line running through the property, but the city has said it is abandoned.
“It’s not a big line, so it shouldn’t present any problems, but we just wanted to make sure,” Dodson said.
White said his examination of the property - which is part of a mixed-use development and in an accessible location - was looking good so far and that the old sewer line shouldn’t be a problem.
Once the examination is complete and if no issues are found, Dodson said he’ll seek action on the purchase by the commissioners court as soon as possible.
“If it all works out, I will bring it as soon as we can get everything locked down,” Dodson said. “With all the rain we’ve had … and with all the leaks in the roof, the sooner we get Judge Woody into the new building and out of the one he’s in now the better.”
The commissioner hopes to have construction completed and operations begun in the new facility within 12 months.
E-mail Anthony at Anthony.Trojan@waxahachiedailylight.com