The final removal of the 18-foot-tall Themis statue from the top of the McLennan County Courthouse will be the responsibility of a local company.

The county awarded Montgomery Construction a contract for the replacement of the Themis statue for $428,388.19, about $62,000 more than the county estimated.

Two companies placed bids for the work to lower the Greek goddess of divine law, have the statue duplicated and then position the new one on top of the courthouse, Purchasing Director Ken Bass said.

Montgomery will start work in the next couple of months, Bass said.

The 5,900-pound historic statue that lost an arm in a storm almost three years ago is another step closer to leaving its perch permanently. Wind gusts of 65 mph ripped off the 18-foot-tall statue’s left arm, which held the scales of justice. The arm landed on the courthouse lawn below, and the scales landed in a nearby magnolia tree.

County staff originally thought the replacement project would cost about $366,000. County leaders agreed to duplicate the statue instead of repair the historic one because of the fragility of the statue and the difficulty of the repair process.

Since the project will cost more than originally expected, the county will request an increased contribution from its insurer, the Texas Association of Counties, County Administrator Dustin Chapman said.

The insurer originally told the county it would cover about $292,000, minus a $10,000 deductible, for the storm-related damage.

Lotsa Indians

Commissioners Tuesday also accepted a $3,000 donation from a local company co-owned by the individual whose department is designated to receive the money.

Lotsa Indians LLC requested to donate the money to be used for the purchase of weapons by Precinct 1 Constable Walt Strickland. Strickland is a part owner of the company.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Kelly Snell asked if the county is required to accept the donation.

County Auditor Stan Chambers said the county is not required to accept the donation but is required to either accept or deny the addition of funding the county’s budget.

County Judge Scott Felton said the county received a sizable donation a while back from a company that specifically designated the money for ammunition for the sheriff’s office, setting precedent for the action.

Strickland said his company owns rental property and regularly makes donations.

Snell voted against receiving the funding.

Commissioner Lester Gibson did not attend the meeting.

County engineer

Commissioners agreed to interview candidates for the open county engineer position May 23. At least four candidates are scheduled for interviews.

After the announcement that former County Engineer Steve Hendrick would retire at the end of 2016, commissioners decided to update the job description for the position. Commissioners are hoping the individual who fills the position will have experience working in a unit road system.

The county operates on a precinct road-based system, but commissioners are considering whether to move the county to a new system for road management.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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