Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

February 12, 2013

County moves on with square partnership

Johnson County commissioners on Monday voted to name Precinct 1 Commissioner Rick Bailey as the county’s representative in negotiations with the city of Cleburne concerning operation and maintenance of Johnson County’s historic Market Square.

Commissioners agreed that at the Feb. 25 meeting, they will hold a vote to appoint a member of the Johnson County Historical Commission to the committee negotiating the agreement. Market Square, located on South Main Street in Cleburne, is owned by Johnson County, and the county has paid for the majority of the work to have the historic site renovated. Cleburne supplied water connections and sidewalk, curb and gutter work.

Some city and county officials suggested that the county retain ownership of the property but lease the site to Cleburne for maintenance and operation.

Bailey first suggested the idea to commissioners in mid-January, saying such an arrangement makes sense because the city is better situated to handle day-to-day operations, such as issuing permits for using the square. County Judge Roger Harmon disagreed and suggested at the time the historical commission would likely oppose such a plan.

Plans initially called for a representative of the county to meet with Cleburne City Manager Rick Holden to negotiate an agreement about Market Square, and then take that plan to the historical commission.

But Precinct 3 Commissioner Jerry Stringer on Monday suggested the historical commission be in on negotiations from the beginning.

Historical commission Chair John Percifield stepped forward, saying, “I’d be willing to serve and help whoever you appoint to work out an agreement and then bring that back here to the court.”

But when County Attorney Bill Moore explained the court couldn’t vote to put Percifield on the committee because such an action wasn’t included on the agenda, Percifield said, “You [commissioners] can just go ahead and vote to appoint Rick [Bailey] to represent the county, then Rick can just ask me to go along with him to the meetings.”

Bailey insisted the court vote on the matter at its next meeting.

“I am very pleased that you are willing to represent the historical commission [in the negotiations], and we are ready to move forward with this,” Bailey said. “But this court can change. And down the road some day, if there are different people sitting on this court, I want to have it on the record that this court with these members voted to have you represent the historical commission in these negotiations right from the start.”

Harmon suggested tabling the motion to appoint Bailey to represent the county until the Feb. 25 meeting and then name Bailey and Percifield to the committee at the same time. Stringer, however, made the motion to go ahead and name Bailey as the county’s representative on Monday, and the court agreed unanimously.

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