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Bell County Commissioners seek grant for new courthouse plan

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Posted at 9:33 PM, Jan 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-03 22:33:26-05

The Bell County Courthouse dates back to 1884.

A project in the late 1990s aimed to bring it back to its original glory but it ran out of money before the work could finish.

Now, Commissioners have taken the first steps to finish the job, something residents call long overdue.

In a digital age, Roxane McWha says people still want a good book. She wanted to put her business where people gather, so she found a prime location across the street from the Bell County Courthouse.

"We have a lot of foot taffeta and I think the courthouse brings, you know, a lot of our business," McWha said.

In an effort to keep the courthouse viable and useful, Bell County Commissioners recently voted to apply for a state grant to update their courthouse plan.

"We not only want it to be historically accurate and significant and important to us, but we also want it functional,” said Bell County Judge David Blackburn. 

He hopes to snag just under $45,000 to update building plans. And he has high hopes that they'll get the cash.

The Texas Historical Commission gave out almost $20 million in grants last year to 15 counties for projects just like the one in Belton.

Commissioners hope a new plan will eventually lead to the completion of the last full renovation of the courthouse in 1997. The project stopped short of its goal when the money ran out.

"The goal here would be to complete some of the things that the '97 restoration stopped short of, absolutely. I think the plan update will look certainly backward at what we have done but it's also going to add to the list or make sure the list is current in terms of what we should be doing,” said Blackburn. 

McWha believes a good sprucing up and updating will help boost business in downtown Belton and maybe even put a modern spin on the town square.

"The courthouse is a beautiful building and we need to preserve it because it is a sense of pride to me, it very much is,” McWha said.

Just like her books, she believes the historic courthouse serves an important purpose in Bell County.

Judge Blackburn hopes to have word on the grant and the updating on the plan started by this summer.

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