Walker County Courthouse

A new $4 million Texas Agri-Life Extension Office was among 11 budget proposals that was received by the Walker County Commissioners Court on Monday. 

The facility, which was initially proposed by commissioners in April, would serve as the new home to Texas Agri-Life offices and Walker County Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens.

“We have exceeded our meeting space by far,” county extension agent Reggie Lepley said. “We currently utilize the storm shelter more than any other organization, and would like to be able to host both youth and adult educational programs, but do not have the proper facilities at this time.”

The Idea for the project was initially presented in April by Commissioner Bill Daugette (Pct. 3), who serves on the project board. Daugette gave the option to expand the current office on Hwy. 75 in northwestern Walker County or build a new office on Wire Road on a site owned by Sam Houston State. Officials met in an executive session last month to consider the project, but chose to pass on it.

“There are many issues with the current building,” Lepley added. “The building is not ADA compliant and there is not enough storage for all the materials. Parking has also become a major problem.”

Representatives would like to eventually host multiple events at a time that can comfortably accommodate 200-250 people.

“This building would not just be for our purposes, but for the entire community,” Lepley added. “We would be able to hold some of the events that are held at the storm shelter and Gibbs Ranch.”

Amongst the amenities in the new facility would be a kitchen for various programs such as canning foods and cooking meals. Lepley also intends for the building to be used by other counties as needed, with 4-H and youth agricultural organizations as regular users of the building.

“Brazos County has recently built a new office for extension agents, but they have the benefit of holding their meetings at Texas A&M,” Lepley said. “The cost of their building was $2.5 million, which is where the $4 million for our building came from.”

The proposal was for the 2019-20 fiscal budget year, which will begin in October.

In other action, commissioners:

• approved grants with the Texas Department of Transportation, totaling $54,758.

• Approved temporary erosion control on a lot in Texas Grand Ranch.

The next scheduled meeting of the Walker County Commissioners Court is scheduled for July 15 at 1:30 p.m.