Nacogdoches County Commissioners spar over building's future

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Discussion over the future of a vocational training facility in Nacogdoches created a bit of tension between the county judge and a commissioner today.

However, the exchange didn't get in the way of project development. A building for the Nacogdoches Technical Training Center was purchased three years ago by Nacogdoches County.

On Tuesday, Pct. 1 Commissioner Jerry Don Williamson voiced his objections in front of a roomful of economic developers.

"It's a wonderful thing, but I just don't think Nacogdoches County should be in the school business," Williamson said.

Williamson was also upset that the county judge or the other commissioners didn't inform him about the proposal.

"I should have been talked to," Williamson. "I, as a court member, have not been even discussed by no member or the judge on this."

Judge Joe English is taking the lead on the tech center development, but claims that Williamson was informed.

"You have been informed," English said.

"I have not been informed with the court," Williamson replied.

In the end, the motions necessary for project development passed despite Williamson's opposing vote.

Grant consultant David Waxman attempted to answer concerns. Tax revenue is not a funding source. Instead, a little more than $1 million from round two of Hurricane Ike funding will be utilized.

"It's an attempt on your part to utilize an existing structure for something that is clearly needed now and not likely to go away in a long period of time," Waxman said.

Still, the grant money only covers 75 percent of the costs to renovate an old beer warehouse for Angelina College. The Nacogdoches Independent School district is showing interest in pitching in, so the Martin School of Choice can be moved to the location.

"Right now we're considering a $500,000 agreement with the county," said Dr. Fred Hayes, NISD's superintendent. "And the way I look at it is it's really a long term lease."

At what could amount to $16,000 dollars a month to the county. Proponents say the real payoff is providing students a transition into trade certification.

"Seventy-five percent of all the students that graduate from our school districts in the county leave Nacogdoches," English said. "And the reason they leave Nacogdoches is because we're not able to provide them the education and the employment opportunities in our community. And so this is going to feel that gap."

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