“What you are seeing today, is the product of about six years of talking and planning,” said Liberty County Judge J. Harrison Knight. For the next eighteen months anyone travelling on HWY 146 from Hardin to Liberty or vice versa will see progress in the making. According to Judge Knight, in “around twenty-four months at the most people will be moving,” into the new building. Judge Knight began by saying that years ago he, Commissioner Greg Arthur and Commissioner Leon Wilson began strategy for this project. All three have law enforcement backgrounds. Judge Knight worked for TDJC and part of his job descriptions was building prisons, Commissioner Arthur served first as Sergeant for DPS and then Liberty County Sheriff, and Commissioner Wilson was an area peace officer. The new 52-acre law enforcement complex will house offices for Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Liberty County Commissioner Precinct 2, and Liberty County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace and Constable, Office of Emergency Management, DPS, Texas Game Wardens and the Texas Rangers. This is also the future site for the Liberty County Jail.
Quite a large crowd of law enforcement officials, elected officials, mayors of surrounding cities, media and well-wishers gathered on Thursday morning at 10:00 am. for the groundbreaking. Judge Knight was the Master of Ceremony. Sheriff Bobby Rader entertained the attendees with his usual humor and a funny poem that was a takeoff of “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” in which he described the present building as well as the feelings of hope amongst the LCSO deputies and staff brought about by the coming building. “Today is a big day for all of us. The groundbreaking is not just sticking some shovels into the ground and chunking some dirt. Today, plans will be put into action. Today, dreams will be realized. Today will be the start of a new building that will be occupied by people that have taken an oath to serve the citizens of Liberty County.” Sheriff Rader went on to say that this “project came about as the result of hard work and teamwork.” This team was most definitely headed up by Liberty County Judge J. Harrison Knight with support from Liberty County Commissioners Bruce Karbowski, Greg Arthur, David Whitmire and Leon Wilson. Father Ted Smith delivered a prayer for the grounds in full dress uniform. He petitioned the throne of Grace regarding the perception that the community will have for the complex. He prayed for it to be a place of strength; that people see it as a place of protection and not some absolute power. Pastor Carl Williamson of Calvary Baptist Church in Cleveland gave a powerful prayer for the occupants and citizens.
Kenny Burns is the architect for the project. In looking for an architect for this project Judge Knight relied on his prior experience working for TDJC; during which time he built prisons. Burns explained the complex as being a campus for law enforcement. He is the face of the project but has a full design team. The judge was impressed with Burns at their first meeting when Burns took out a pad and sketched the building to scale. “Practicality and longevity,” are the desired qualities, said Judge Knight. Burns spoke briefly and thanked everyone for helping him especially LCSO Shirley Jackson, who is the very well known and much beloved secretary to Sheriff Rader.
White Construction will provide the work for the project. Jim Snyder is the head. Snyder spoke of being humbled at being chosen to build these heritage buildings and being a part of Liberty County history. And pictures were taken in huge supply. It as an historic occasion. Construction for the building is estimated to be less than $20 million although $25 million has been budgeted. Liberty County Commissioners approved certificates of obligation last June to fund the project.
Former Liberty County Sheriff O. J. Stewart was present. Liberty County Attorney Matthew Poston was there greeting folks as well as the County Commissioners. Commissioner Leon Wilson was located under the tent with Judge Knight and was one to shovel dirt. Commissioner Greg Arthur who also served as Liberty County Sherriff was there with his wife talking to everyone. His office will be in the complex. It is fitting that these individuals who have spent years serving Liberty County finally receive offices comparable with other counties. Liberty County Precinct 3 JP Cody Parrish was all smiles as usual. He says, “It will be good to have a permanent home. I have moved 3 times in 13 years and been in a portable building more than I would like to recall.” Close by was popular Precinct 3 Constable Mark “Maddog” Davison who is excited about the progress in Liberty County.