Daily Light Managing Editor

The Ellis County Bond Oversight Committee met for the first time Monday night, electing an executive committee and receiving several updates on the county’s facilities program.

County commissioners established the 15-member committee after a $58 million bond was passed in May to construct an administrative and courts building and an addition to the county jail in downtown Waxahachie. The committee also will have oversight over the construction of a companion parking garage that is being paid for by the city of Waxahachie.

As voted by its membership, the committee’s executive officers include co-chairmen Roy Orr and Larry Burns, first vice chairman John Tabor, second vice chairman Scott Jackson and secretary Cheree’ Barrett.

Other members of the oversight committee are Cathy Altman, Jimmy Boon, Ken Chambers, John Knight, Bill Lewis, James Moon, Charles Morton, Tommy Rossa, John Wyckoff and Doug Young.

The committee anticipates meeting every quarter, with the executive members meeting more often as necessary.

Jon Vidaurri with the Staubach Company, which has been assisting the county with its facilities program, and county engineer Joe White provided an update as to where the facilities program is at this time.

According to their presentation, the administration and courts building is planned as a 78,800 square feet, two-story masonry building to be located on property bounded by South Jackson, Cliff and Jefferson streets and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Although there is some fluidity as to the building’s final inhabitants, the offices planned for moving into the new building include the district attorney, two existing county courts at law, adult probation, public works, district clerk, 9-1-1 mapping, fire marshal, auditor, purchasing, treasurer, communications, veterans services, indigent health care, MIS, human resources, tax office, homeland security, county engineer, county clerk, juvenile probation and elections office. There will be space for six courtrooms, with Vidaurri saying the building is planned to have a 50- to 75-year lifespan.

A final configuration is still being determined for the jail addition, which will contain 92,000 square feet in either two or three stories, with a minimum of 273 beds. The jail addition could be located either adjacent to the existing jail or as more of a stand-alone building.

The parking garage will include 138,000 square feet in either three or four stories, with 424 parking spaces.

The county’s budget includes $26,145,409 for the administration and courts building, with $27,726,096 set aside for the jail addition.

Vidaurri discussed the services that will be continue to be offered by the Staubach Company as the projects move forward and noted what has been accomplished so far, including the selection of HDR Architects as the architectural and engineering firm.

The next steps, he said, include preparation of the construction manager-at-risk RFQ, technology consultant RFQ, geotechnical testing RFP and material testing/inspection services RFP.

Discussing the construction manager-at-risk selection, Vidaurri said most projects are handled this way. Information he provided the committee noted, “The construction manager-at-risk serves as the general contractor assuming the risk of the construction guaranteed price and provides design phase consultation in evaluating cost, schedule, implications of alternative designs and systems and materials during and after design of the facility.

“Section is based on criteria that combine qualifications, experience and may involve fee and general conditions. … This delivery system is best suited for new construction or renovation projects that are cost sensitive, schedule sensitive and subject to change.”

Architectural programming for the administration and courts building and the jail addition also is under way, he said.

“We’ve got a lot at stake,” county engineer Joe White said. “This building’s got to be right.”

As established by the county commissioners court, the oversight committee’s role and responsibilities include:

The goals and objectives of the oversight committee are to create a venue that allows public oversight of the county facilities projects while going through the design and construction process. The role of the committee shall be for oversight and shall in no way interfere with the authority of the court or its assigned representatives to govern and manage the affairs of the county. The charge of the Ellis County Bond Oversight Committee shall be to report to the commissioners court regarding the progress of the bond program. The committee shall be composed of citizens representing all of Ellis County. Members shall be recognized by the community as individuals of good faith who will assume the court’s charge with a sense of commitment and objectivity. The committee shall report to the commissioners court on a regular basis or as determined by the oversight committee and the commissioners court.

E-mail JoAnn at editor@waxahachiedailylight.com