Randall County’s courthouse annex owes its existence to many individuals, but one of them stands out … as in he really stands taller than the others.
The county has performed a remarkable act of honor in putting the late Ernie Houdashell’s name on the building. Houdashell, who became a dear friend of mine after I left daily journalism in Amarillo nearly a decade ago, worked hard to swing the deal that enabled the county to build a government office building that serves the bulk of the county’s population.
Houdashell, who served as county judge for 18 years, died in November 2020 of complications from the COVID-19 virus. The Commissioners Court elevated a commissioner, Christy Dyer, to the judgeship. Dyer, who is running for election this year, presided over a ceremony at the annex that resulted in its now carrying Ernie Houdashell’s name.
I cannot even begin to express adequately my pleasure at learning that the county has taken this important step.
Eighty percent of Randall County’s population resides in south Amarillo; those residents pay the vast majority of the tax revenue that funds county government, even though the county seat is in Canyon.
That vast majority of the county population formerly renewed its car registration, paid its property tax bill and did its business with the county in a cramped structure on South Georgia Street. Houdashell laid eyes on a former department store site on Western Street and negotiated seemingly forever for the county to aquire that property. He did not quit. He didn’t surrender.
The county secured the funds to remodel, refurbish and renovate the Western site and opened the new annex a couple of years ago. It is spacious. modern and well-appointed. The county was able to bring many of its services under a single roof, creating a level of efficiency it didn’t have prior to the construction of the new site.
Ernie Houdashell made it happen!
According to Yahoo News: “He was a mentor, my friend, and an inspiration,” Dyer said. “Randall County was so blessed to have him at the helm. He leaves big shoes to fill. I work very hard and every day, I think about him and what would be his thoughts on if we were taking the right step forward for Randall County.”
Ernie Houdashell would be proud. Of that I am absolutely certain.
Well done, Randall County.