Commissioner, sheriff supply manpower to clean northside walls

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Commissioner Zenaida Sanchez and Jim Wells County Sheriff Oscar Lopez led a cooperative effort to clean up the county courthouse exterior last weekend.

For years, moss, algae and other moldy material collected on the steps and walls on the north-facing portion of the courthouse, darkening the appearance of the brick, and had become an eyesore, officials said.

"This is really a push to begin a springtime cleanup for the courthouse," Sanchez said. "There's been a lot of moss and algae growing on the north side of the courthouse, and we're planning two or three Saturdays for the cleanup.

"We used some of my employees on the project, and a few trustees provided by the sheriff from the county jail to get the job done. The stairs and much of the brick exterior were powerwashed this weekend. I think you can tell, there's a pretty significant difference."

Lopez provided the power washer and two trustees for the project, plus a deputy to supervise the work.

Sanchez's crew spent a majority of the time using large scrub brushes to clean the brick exterior, which in many places was black from mold and mildew. Sanchez said it was several years since the courthouse had received an exterior cleaning.

"Weather permitting, we'll be outside of the courthouse next weekend. The mold has built up over a number of years, and we're trying to improve the outside appearance of the courthouse for the public," Sanchez said.

The stairway cleaning was also an important part of the project, Sanchez said, because it is a main entranceway and needed a good cleaning for the safety of the public.

Along with the exterior cleaning, the county has also pushed to improve the surrounding courthouse area with marked parking spots on the west side of the courthouse to allow county exempt vehicles to park in those spaces, specifically sheriff's department vehicles used to transfer juveniles to and from the courthouse.

"It's easier to get them to and from the courthouse utilizing the spaces and they make it more convenient for law enforcement officers," Sanchez said.

"Also, with the recent approval of an election administrator, the county judge is looking for office space to house this individual. There are several offices in the basement which contain filing cabinets from other offices, and we'll see if we can move those to secure storage off site, to make some room for the administrator's office."