County still discussing possible move from downtown Cameron
Milam County Commissioners are still discussing a possible move from downtown Cameron to the old Little River Hospital building.
Commissioners met on May 23 and again on May 28 to discuss that topic and more.
County Judge Steve Young said at the May 23 meeting that the county is proposing exchanging multiple county properties in downtown for the hospital building in an effort to aid economic development in downtown Cameron and give county residents a one-stop shop for county services.
Young said the buildings that would be included in the trade are the Blake Building (currently houses the District and County Attorney’s Offices); the building that Texas A&M AgriLife is currently housed in; two properties that the Health Department are housed in; the Milam County Tax Office; the old Dusek’s building that currently houses the Milam County Museum; the building where Adult Probation is located; and the Milam County Appraisal District building.
The county would retain the property where Bea’s Kitchen is; the old JC Penney Building where the Train Museum is located; and the buildings where the County Clerk’s offices are located. He said the County Museum and Train Museum could potentially move into the County Clerk space.
Young said the appraised value of those buildings is $1,023,130. They need about $300,950 in maintenance, leaving the value at $722,180. He said that would give the county a positive value in the trade of $1 million. The hospital is currently valued at $1.7 million.
Young told commissioners the cost to renovate the existing hospital into something useful for the county would be upwards of $1.5 million.
Young confirmed during the May 28 meeting that the Milam Appraisal District Board of Directors voted 2-1 last week to oppose giving up their building as part of the swap. While they did vote to oppose, Young stated that it will not kill a potential move into the hospital building. He said the vote means negotiations remain ongoing with the board to find a deal to their liking.
Commissioners approved going forward with a Letter of Intent with the stipulations that the county will secure the funds, secure the ownership of the Milam Appraisal District, and get a satisfactory definitive renovation final number for costs. Young said he would speak with an architect to get a final number for renovation costs.
Commissioners also discussed the removal or clean-up of an illegal dumping site on the east side of Rockdale during Tuesday’s meeting. The action item refers to the Thrasher property there.
Several weeks ago, commissioners approved sending a certified letter to the Thrashers giving them 30 days to clean up the property. The final day was Tuesday and commissioners got an estimate on the property and the clean up is expected to cost between $200,000 and $300,000. The county could possibly make that money back by selling the scrap iron located on the property. Bids are expected to be sent out for the project.
Commissioners also discussed the recent ransomware virus that crippled the county computer systems this month. Young said the ransomware is almost completely eradicated, with the exception of three outdated computers that are unfixable. Young urges any county employee that used the county computer for any personal accounts such as banking or anything that uses your personal information to change your passwords because if you used the county computers for that reason your sensitive information is most likely breached.