Local News

Jul 11, 2013 7:38 PM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

Special Report: The Ghost Floor

KINGSVILLE - In the Kleberg County Courthouse, a courthouse most consider to be two floors, there's actually a third floor. A floor that looks like it's being remodeled.

And it's looked like that for eight years.

Jorge Salazar is the Courthouse Maintenance Director, and back then, he was part of the crew that was working to turn the floor into new office space for the courthouse. It used to be the old county jail.

"Nobody knows anything about it," he says.

Most people don't know about the two years of work, and over $300,000 worth of taxpayer money that went into the unfinished renovations.

Salazar says the crew only needed a few more months to fully finish the project. They had all the basics done. Air conditioning, plumbing, eletrical, and framing. All things that were done.

Salazar even has an article from the Kingsville Record framed in his office. The headline proclaims a bargain for taxpayers. In the article is a quote from the then County Judge that reads, "this will be the best Christmas present".

That in addition to the tons and tons of pictures he has of he and his crew, all smiling and proud of what they were building.

But then, the Texas Historical Commission shut the project down.

"And now, everything is abandoned," Salazar says.

The problem is the courthouse is a historical landmark, and the Commission didn't approve certain changes.

The main problem is the second floor courtroom. The Commission wants the upper balcony restored, and they want to be able to see the ceiling of the courthouse from the room.

Their goal is to keep the historical integrity of the courthouse.

But that's little consolation to Salazar or taxpayers that paid for all the work already done.

The County tried to fight the Commission, but the truth is, once a building is declared a landmark, the Commission calls the shots.

So, the issue reached a stalemate and time took its toll.

Year after year, the ghost floor remains, a representation of all that taxpayer money.

Salazar waits and hopes for a day when he can finish what he envisioned all those years ago.

For now, he only has his pictures to remind him of what he once thought this floor would become.

The County says it's a subject they'd like to address again, but they admit that there are a number of needed courthouse repairs and some can be done without dealing with the Commission.

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