Salado building

The former Acton Imprimis building, 11057 Event Drive in Salado, was approved for purchase by the Bell County Commissioners Court. The building will house Precinct 2 justice of the peace and constable offices.

BELTON — The Bell County Commissioners Court approved $1.1 million to renovate a 7,400-square-foot building for a county annex in Salado during Monday’s regular meeting.

The court unanimously awarded the bid to Liberty Hill-based STR Constructors LLC and authorized County Judge David Blackburn to enter the contract not to exceed $1.1 million plus an owner contingency totaling $80,000.

Bell County Public Information Officer James Stafford said the building’s funding comes from a bond and will host several county entities.

“We just purchased this property over the summer,” he said. “It is being renovated to put in officers for the justice of the peace and constable for Precinct 2. There will also be some outside work done, including … driveway access.”

The building, located at 11057 Event Drive in Salado, will also allow voters to have a permanent polling site.

“The site is also going to be utilized as a voting location, so a space will be created for that,” Stafford said.

Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Cliff Coleman said the building would allow the county to stop renting and have its own facility.

“The county purchased this property because Precinct 2 doesn’t have any property,” he said. “We have been renters for many, many years. We will have a permanent location now. I feel like the justice of the peace and the constable needs a permanent location, a county-owned property, so we’re not moving every few years to different places.”

Currently, Precinct 2 offices housed at the Salado Civic Center, a former historic school building at 601 N. Main St. that also houses Salado ISD offices.

“We’re on the first floor of the civic center,” said Coleman. “We’ve been here for five years. I would imagine (the new building) will be open closer to the end of 2022.”

The lease at the civic center expires in a year, and Coleman said it was not meant to be permanent.

“We were actively looking for a place,” he said. “We’ve been advised that the school was going to want this area to house more administration for the Salado Independent School District.”

The new facility, Coleman said, will allow court proceedings to run smoother.

“When we had a jury trial, there were only 14 seats available,” he said. “When we had 30 people there, it was an unworkable situation in our courtroom to have a proper voir dire. In addition to that, there have been several cases that I’ve had where we’ve had to have the doors open and have people outside the hallway to be able to hear the cases.

The new facility, Coleman said, would have “a larger courtroom to facilitate the needs of Precinct 2 of Bell County.”

Coleman said he researched various courthouses and provided input to the designers of the new building.

“I came to the architect’s table with a pretty good idea of what I thought would work,” he said. “I’m excited about what they have drawn up and what this is going to be.”