Brazos County Judge provides updates on current and future projects

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 9:49 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -Brazos County is experiencing changes and growth, with various projects in different stages of development. Following the passing of next year’s fiscal budget and tax rate Brazos County Commissioners are focused on public safety and infrastructure.

Renewed interlocal agreements

During the meeting, commissioners renewed agreements with the cities of Bryan and College Station to provide automatic mutual aid emergency medical services (EMS) to residents outside city limits. The agreement with Bryan has been extended through 2024, while College Station’s extension runs through 2026.

Bryan Fire Department EMS
Bryan Fire Department EMS(Hope Merritt)

Brazos County Commissioners approve over 80 job descriptions, including new positions, in annual review

Brazos County Commissioners reviewed and approved job descriptions for more than 80 positions during Tuesday’s meeting. While this process is customary and occurs annually after finalizing the budget, several new positions were introduced this year to accommodate the county’s growth.

There are 23 new positions, including roles in various county departments including the new 472nd court, fleet shop, commissioners court, public defender office, sheriff’s office, and jail.

KBTX News 3 at Six Weekday EXTENDED(Recurring)

New 472nd District Court

A new 472nd District Court was established to handle civil and juvenile cases. Governor Abbott appointed current Bryan Municipal Judge George Wise to lead this court, with his swearing-in expected in November. Additional support staff will also be hired.

Judge Wise brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having presided over the City of Bryan Municipal Court since 2021, and his prior service as an attorney and a police officer. Brazos County Judge Duane Peters says the establishment of this court is a proactive measure to accommodate the county’s growth and alleviate the caseload in existing district courts.

“We will be putting him in the old 85th courtroom, which is kind of the historical courtroom. It’s the only courtroom we have available right now and so he’ll be operating out of that until we’re able to do some more remodeling and make some changes,” said Brazos County Judge Duane Peters.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott named George Jerrell Wise as the presiding judge of the newly...
On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott named George Jerrell Wise as the presiding judge of the newly formed 472nd Judicial District Court in Brazos County.(KBTX)

Security enhancements at the Brazos County Courthouse

Judge Peters says enhancing security at the Brazos County Courthouse remains a priority. Security upgrades are expected to be completed in November. Peters says the changes aim to streamline visitor and staff entrances, ensuring that all individuals entering the courthouse do so through a single front entrance. Peters says this change is vital to maintaining a safe and secure environment for everyone.

“They’ll actually be two different lines but they’ll all come through that front entrance rather than employees coming in through the back. We want to make sure that there are no weapons coming into the courthouse and certainly be protective of all the employees and the public,” Peters added.

Brazos County Courthouse renderings
Brazos County Courthouse renderings

Former Bryan ISD Administration Building

The future of the former Bryan ISD Administration Building, purchased in 2021, is being discussed.

The building, located at 101 North Texas Avenue in Bryan, is across the street from the Brazos County Courthouse and near the Brazos County Administration Building.

“The location is perfect for any future needs Brazos County might have since it’s so close to the courthouse,” said County Judge Duane Peters. “The courthouse is land-locked, so having property nearby would allow for future growth needs.”

A feasibility study is underway to determine how this space can be effectively utilized.

“I think we’ve identified a couple of departments that will be able to fit but we’re still working through that. We need an architect to take a look at what the needs are and what the actual space will be available and can we work it into the existing floor plan,’ said Peters.

Brazos County is set to buy the former Bryan ISD Administration Building on Texas Avenue.
Brazos County is set to buy the former Bryan ISD Administration Building on Texas Avenue.(KBTX)

Medical Examiner Facility

Judge Peters says plans for a medical examiner facility are moving ahead.

It’s long been a desire for officials to bring a medical examiner’s facility to Brazos County. For more than a decade, county leaders have discussed the possibility but the timing wasn’t quite right and the money wasn’t there.

County leaders say a toxicology lab and medical examiner’s office are long overdue and vital to the public health and safety of residents.

Over 200 autopsies are outsourced to the Travis County Medical Examiners’ office in Austin every year. The Travis County MEO currently serves Brazos and 45 other counties with their death-related investigations, since they may include an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.

Johnson County Medical Examiner, Kansas; Exterior Employee Break Area Photo: Michael Robinson,...
Johnson County Medical Examiner, Kansas; Exterior Employee Break Area Photo: Michael Robinson, courtesy SmithGroup(Michael Robinson | © 2020 Michael Robinson)

The 16,000-square-foot facility would have the capability to perform over 400 autopsies per year from not only Brazos County but surrounding counties as well. Peters said in previous statements that if Brazos County opens a medical examiner’s office, surrounding counties like Burleson, Grimes, Lee, Milam, Robertson, and Washington could have a closer option for their autopsy services, creating revenue for the county.

Peters says they’re currently collaborating with an architect and consultant to move the project forward.

“We’ve got an architect on board now and a consultant that’s associated with that architect and so we’re having some good discussions and we’re moving forward,’ said Peters.