PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

January 10, 2013

PN’s new city hall unveiled for the public

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

PORT NECHES — Rainfall gave way to clearing skies just in time for a ribbon cutting/open house at the newly constructed city hall/emergency operations center in Port Neches on Thursday.

Officials with Port Neches as well as other Mid-County cities were joined by residents, judges and county officials. Cecil Holstead, who served as mayor of Port Neches from 1954 to 1958 was on hand to congratulate council members for their work in making the dream a realization.

Randy Kimler, who served as city manager for from the late 1990s to 2008, stood in the doorway of the dispatch area near council chambers where he greeted the numerous visitors of the day.

“This is much better than what we had,” Kimler said with a chuckle. “The city and citizens will get many years of use of it.”

Staff had started mulling the idea of a new city hall years ago when Kimler was city manager. He gave some history of the former city hall, which is adjacent to the new building.

The former city hall, located at 634 Ave. C., was once a clinic that was building around the time of World War II in 1942. At some point it stopped being used as a clinic and became city hall and in 1974 the building was expanded.

Mayor Glenn Johnson stood on the steps of the $2.6 million facility and greeted the crowd. Funding for a majority of the project came from two federal grants, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program grant and a Port Security Grant. The more than $2 million in grant funding will pay 75 percent of the cost of the building with the city picking up the remaining 25 percent which amount to about $600,000.

“It is built to hurricane strength and can withstand 150 mph winds. If a hurricane does come this way at least I’ll have a nice place to stay,” Johnson said with a laugh, explaining that he and staff slept at city hall during hurricanes.

The building is also elevated about eight feet.

Johnson said the new building is a 75 year commitment.

“We’ve vested in the future,” he said. “And the ones who come after us shouldn’t have to worry about a place to conduct business.”

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews