Time for a mea culpa.
I was an adamant foe of an effort to spend public money to revive a long-abandoned county courthouse in Randall County. I voted against a referendum that called for such an expenditure.
It turned out that I was among the minority of voters. Most of them who voted in Randall County approved the expenditure of public funds to refurbish the exterior of the courthouse building that was erected in1909. The county abandoned it some years ago, relocating many functions on the other side of Canyon, Texas.
The county finished the outside of the building. The inside remains empty. It hasn’t been touched.
One of the initial foes of that public expenditure was Randall County Judge Ernie Houdashell. The judge is one of my better friends in public life. I admire the lifelong Republican politician greatly. I thought he was correct to oppose spending public funds on the courthouse building.
He has turned the corner. Why? Because the Canyon Square has sprung back to life. Various businesses have filled virtually all the empty storefronts on the square. Downtown Canyon is brimming with life. Houdashell credits the old courthouse structure as being the magnet that has drawn the businesses downtown.
The City of Canyon looked for a time at moving into the courthouse building, but then backed out when it determined it couldn’t rehabilitate the building in a cost-effective manner for municipal purposes.
I don’t have the vaguest notion where the county is going with the structure. It still owns the building. It won’t reinstall any county government functions in the 109-year-old building. Its Justice Center is functioning across the street from West Texas A&M University; the old finance building serves as the headquarters for the commissioners court across the street from the old courthouse.
However, the 1909 courthouse building looks spiffy and well-groomed in the middle of the square. The storefronts surrounding the building are busy.
Judge Houdashell, once a staunch critic of the old structure, now is one of its biggest fans. I, too, am a believer in what has happened.
Life is good in downtown Canyon. Who knew?