New county judge's plate will be heaping

Nancy Tanner isn’t shying away from the huge tasks awaiting her when she becomes Potter County’s next judge.

It’s not exactly a done deal just yet, although it’s virtually so. Tanner won the Republican Party primary in March. No Democrat is on the ballot. Still, she has to go through the motions of an election in November. It’s safe to assume she’ll be elected in the fall, then she gets set to take the gavel from her former mentor and friend, Arthur Ware, who fired Tanner from her job as his administrative assistant in 2013 for reasons no one yet really knows — officially.

Job One for the new judge?

It appears that the Courts Building needs replacing. Not repair. Or refurbishing. It needs to be knocked down.

No one in county government — at least those with whom I’ve spoken — likes working in the structure that Ware calls without a hint of affection the “Grain Elevator.”

It was completed in 1985, which means that it has fallen apart in less than 30 years. Compare that with the Santa Fe Building, which houses several county offices. That Santa Fe was built in 1930 and as a friend who works for the county told me this morning, he toured the¬†then-vacant structure¬†right after the county bought it in 1995 — before the county lifted a finger to fix it up — and said “We could move¬†right now!”

I should add that the county paid a grand total of $400,000 for the 11-story office building.

How’s the county going to pay for a new Courts Building? Tanner told the Rotary Club of Amarillo this past week she believes certificates of obligation are an option. The county has a relatively light debt load, she said.

Now the big question: How much would a new building cost? My spies at the county tell me they’ve heard estimates that hover around the $150 million mark. Would the county issue that COs to cover the entire cost? Tanner didn’t say.

The building is a piece of crap. Everyone seems to agree on that fundamental point.

It needs to go. Finding a suitable strategy to replace will keep the new county judge up late at night.

Welcome back to public service, Judge Tanner.



2 thoughts on “New county judge's plate will be heaping”

  1. John, thanks for bringing this story to light but I must correct you on your figure for the estimated cost of building a new courts building. The cost you quoted ($150 mil) was for a new jail, a new courts building, road and bridge relocate as well as facilities maintenance relocate all combined. Not going to happen! Obviously the cost for a new courts building is substantially lower. Thanks.

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