JASPER, Texas (KTRE) - Construction on a new facility that will relocate the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) to Lufkin could wrap up by the end of 2019, the executive director confirmed on Thursday.
DETCOG is a voluntary association of local governments in the 12-county region encompassing Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, and Tyler counties. Currently, members meet in Jasper to discuss business; however, a new facility in the works would provide a more centralized location for members to meet.
“They’re doing a great job, they’re working hard and fast,” said Lonnie Hunt, executive director of DETCOG. “We think our new building will be finished by the end of this year. At that point, we’ll relocate all of our DETCOG operations into that building, which will, for the first time in a long time, we’ll have everybody under one roof."
The move isn’t without some downside: Hunt said of the 55 or so full-time employees who work for DETCOG, around 37 live in Jasper County.
Mark Allen, a judge in Jasper County, threw his support behind the project when it was announced, but he also expressed concern for the DETCOG workers in Jasper “who will be forced to commute an additional two hours per day for employment or services.”
“Certainly, they all have a job when we move to Lufkin,” said Hunt. “Some may choose to commute, some may choose to move, and some may decide we just don’t really want to make this move. We’re hoping they all stay with us.”
The new facility in Lufkin has been a nearly two-year project for DETCOG. The Lufkin Economic Development Board announced in June 2017 it approved a grant for $735,000 to move the DETCOG main officer in Jasper to the north side of Lufkin. Hunt said they had also received $2 million in grants to help get bring the project closer to completion.
Hunt added that all signs pointed to completion by the end of the year.
“At this moment, I’m going to say Dec. 31; I don’t want to have to call folks to move over the holidays, but I’m thinking January is going to be a pretty busy month around here,” Hunt said.
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