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Regional public defenders to get new offices in Burnet County

Site of North Hill Country Public Defender's Office in Burnet

The Burnet County Commissioners Court approved the purchase of a modular building that will be erected on the back 2 acres of this 4-acre plot of land at the corner of County Road 250 and Texas 29, across the street from the Burnet County Courthouse Annex-North in Burnet. The county owns the land. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

In a special meeting Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Burnet County Commissioners Court voted to purchase a modular building for the North Hill Country Public Defender’s Office. Total cost for the building, delivery, and setup is $218,603, which will come from a regional indigent program grant.  

Currently, public defenders are working out of a building at 1008 N. Water St. (U.S. 281). Originally known as the Burnet County Public Defender’s Office, it became a regional office on Oct. 1, 2021. It was expanded to include Blanco County for felonies and juveniles and Llano County across the board for felonies, juveniles, and misdemeanors. 

The federal grant is covering both the expansion and the new building, which will be located at the corner of County Road 250 and Texas 29, across the street from the Burnet County Courthouse Annex-North in Burnet. The county purchased 4 acres of land at that corner in 2016 for possible expansion of the annex. 

The 2 acres that face Texas 29 are leased to a real estate agent for $1,000 a month, according to Burnet County Judge James Oakley. 

The county called for bids on designing the new courtroom and annex expansion in October 2021. The top three were culled from 14 received but were later all rejected “as the invitation to bid was not done in accordance with federal guidelines to be able to possibly use federal grant funding,” Oakley told DailyTrib.com. 

A new call for bids was issued Sept. 9. Deadline for submission is Oct. 13. 

The vote to purchase the modular building was 4-0 as Precinct 3 Commissioner Billy Wall was not present. Wall has missed the past two Commissioners Court meetings, which occurred after the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office seized about 80 head of his cattle because of possible animal cruelty. 

A public hearing to determine whether to return the cattle to Wall or turn them over to the county was moved from the Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace courtroom to Precinct 3 at a hearing Sept. 16. A new date had not been set as of mid-day Tuesday, Sept. 20.

suzanne@thepicayune.com

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