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Funding for New Willacy County Courthouse

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WILLACY COUNTY--Willacy County is getting funding to renovate its courthouse. The county has faced a budget shortfall over the past several years.
     Willacy County Judge Aurelio Guerra said the cost to renovate the courthouse is an estimated $8.5 million.
     "I can speculate it will probably take a couple of years because it's a lot of work," said Guerra.
     A historical marker is helping cover the costs of rebuilding. The market was unveiled Saturday. Judge Guerra said the historical commission awarded them an emergency grant totaling $402,000.
     "The historical commission will not fund a project if it's not considered historical place, and this is what signifies a historical place," said Guerra.
     The county already has $405,000 set aside.
     Judge Guerra says in the past, Willacy County has been hit hard financially with the loss of the prison and Walmart, which has affected the money they can put into the courthouse.
     "Just like any other community, when you come across a loss of revenues, you adjust, and that's when you become better as a community, and I think that has happened here locally," said Guerra.
     Judge Guerra said the courthouse has a lot of history in this small town.
     That's something Raymondville native Juan Gutierrez agrees with.
     "It was pretty nice back then. How it is right now, it looks bad. Hopefully, they'll fix it," said Gutierrez.
     Gutierrez said he has fond memories of the courthouse.
     "It brings back memories of my mom when she used to work right up there where they had the jail part, and she used to be one of the cooks there," said Gutierrez.
     Gutierrez said his town fell on hard times after the prison closed.
     "This town has always been a sleepy town. When they closed down, it really put us in a bind," said Gutierrez.
     Gutierrez wants to see the building he has fond memories of, looking the way it once did years ago.
     Judge Guerra said they will apply for a total restoration grant early next year in February.

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