Leon County Courthouse Restoration Project on Hold Again

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Richard King didn't grow up in Leon County, but he lives there now and he's made it his job to preserve the county's history.

King is the president of the Leon County Historical Society. He's been working with the Texas Historical Commission on the restoration of the now vacant Leon County Court House.

"In May of 2000 there was an appointment made by commissioners court to restore and repair the old courthouse, and we've been working on it ever since," said Richard King, Leon County Historical Society.

The project has been delayed because the state has altered the county's plans, including changing the restoration period from the 1930s to the 1910s. The Leon County Historical Society thought the delays were over in 2004 when they received a $1.5 million grant from the state to complete the project. But the Texas Historical Commission submitted more changes, now the project is $500,000 over budget and delayed again.

"The historical commission is reluctant now to reverse a lot of those changes that they made to make the cost prohibitive," said King.

A representative from the Texas Historical Commission says the delays are necessary for the project to be done correctly, but they will work with the architect on alterations that could lower the costs.

"Our architect doesn't believe they can make enough changes to bring us below the $500,000 we're over," said King.

County Judge Byron Ryder says the delays have put a strain on the county because of lack of space.

"It's very difficult for the county to operate," said Judge Byron Ryder, Leon County.

And that isn't his only frustration.

"People want to see it built and they want it to be used," said Ryder.

It won't be used for a while; the county isn't sure where they'll go next. But they're sure of one thing; the project will be completed one way or another.