Grant to repair jail museum withdrawn

Unexpected expense leads county to withdraw application

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The Austin County Jail Museum in Bellville is in need of some serious repairs, but they won’t likely be made until next year, Austin County commissioners learned Monday morning during the regular meeting of commissioners court.

Milton Beckendorff, a member of the museum’s board of directors, came to the commissioners seeking a matching grant so they can re-apply for a grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority. The county and museum board were anticipating the repairs and installation of a new air conditioner to happen this year, but the lack of mechanical drawings of the historic building and the $25,000 price tag to have them made caused the museum to back out of the grant process with the intent of trying again next year.

Beckendorff said the grant process was going smoothly with the Texas Historical Commission until they hit the second phase which required the non-existent drawings. He said an LCRA grant of $25,000 requires at least a 20% match and the more money matched, the better the chances of getting the grant.

“We’re hoping the county will help us as much as it can,” he said.

Commissioner Mark Lamp made a motion to provide $10,000 in matching funds, and it passed unanimously, with Commissioner Randy Reichardt absent from the meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, Commissioner Chip Reed announced plans to create a memorial for his predecessor, Doug King, in Wallis near the Knox Library and the county annex building. King was killed in an accident in December and Reed, the Precinct 4 foreman, was later appointed to take his place. Reed said he is trying to raise $3,000 for the memorial.

In other action during Monday’s meeting, commissioners approved the preliminary meeting schedule for the next fiscal year along with the county’s holiday schedule.

County Judge Tim Lapham presented a preliminary budget to commissioners to consider before going into budget sessions next month. He said that the EMS budget will need some work, but “we have the sheriff whittled down to something we can work with.”

The commissioners also voted to return a 2007 Nissan Altima back to the sheriff’s office and change the employment status of two Precinct 4 positions from part-time and temporary to full-time. They also voted to buy a new dishwashing machine for the jail and approved an interlocal agreement with the Texas Department of Public Safety regarding equipment for the collection and testing of evidence for the sheriff’s office. The commissioners also voted to replace the HVAC system at EMS Station 4 in Wallis.

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