City to build new senior center

Empire-Tribune Staff

Editor's note: The Empire-Tribune reached out to several city officials for additional details on the project, but had not heard back by Friday's print deadline. Additional details on the project will be provided in an upcoming edition of the E-T.

The Stephenville Senior Center will have a new home after the City Council approved a construction bid at its Jan. 4 regular meeting.

Huckabee

"We didn't increase your taxes to do it," said Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Brandon Huckabee. "We utilized sales tax money and revenue that we could put aside to pay with cash."

After much discussion and planning among the council members, the Senior Citizens Advisory Council and other city officials, the council was able to accept a bid of $1,080,000 for the new facility of which the council had set a budget of $1 million.

"Because the economy has been good and tax collections have been good, we were able to save money and set that money aside because we knew that (new center) needed to be done," said Councilman Gerald Cook, noting the existing center has been around for more than 60 years.

Cook

The project originally received only one bid as of a Nov. 16 Special City Council meeting. The bid, for $1,243,842, was rejected by the council at the time since it was well over the budgeted amount. The council instructed City Manager Allen Barnes to readvertise for bids for the project.

At its Jan. 4 meeting, Barnes presented the council with a new bid for $1,080,000, which the council approved. The council also approved $180,000 for an additional 1,000 square feet of space in the center, which will be used as City Council Chambers for meetings and work sessions, and by the senior center during other times when the council is not in session. Council members added that this move would free up the current chambers to be made into city offices for a growing staff.

"We're really excited that you have taken the initiative to build a new senior citizens center," said Jan Smith, chairwoman of the Senior Center Advisory Board.

"We're utilizing money to make your life better and, to me, that's what our role is," Huckabee added.

City of Stephenville voters narrowly defeated a proposition in May 2021 that would have included a combined-use facility to include a new senior citizens center.

Approval of the proposition would have combined the senior citizens center, city recreation center and city library into one new facility. Funding would have covered the design, construction and equipping of the new facility at an estimated cost of $8 million.

The proposition had 800 votes in favor and 868 in opposition, according to previous reports.