Shamrock residents to vote on new community center in November election

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SHAMROCK, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In a post made by the Shamrock Volunteer Fire Department on Feb. 12, 2020, the day the city’s Community Center burned down, officials said that “Shamrock lost a very large part of its history” that morning. 

“When we got the call there was very heavy smoke load showing from every window and door on the building, we attempted two interior offensive attacks but were driving back by the intense heat,” the post read. “Within a matter of minutes after entry, the fire vented out the north side and then the front of the building. We went to a defensive mode and started protection of the surrounding buildings. Once the fire vented the roof in the rear of the building it took less than two minutes for (a) total collapse of the total roof.” 

The post ended with officials stating that “We know it will be rebuilt bigger and better than before.” With the upcoming November election, officials with the city of Shamrock are aiming to do just that, with the voters’ approval. 

During the upcoming election, Shamrock residents will make the decision on whether or not to issue $2.59 million in bonds for the “purpose of designing, constructing, improving and equipping a civic center,” according to the language on the ballot. Prior to it burning down, the community center hosted numerous car shows, gun shows and special events, including the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. 

Troy Potts, the city manager for the city of Shamrock, said because of the rise of construction costs, the project for the new building is expected to cost an estimated $4.79 million, with $2.2 million of the funds coming from the insurance money from the 2020 fire. If passed, the interest and sinking portion of the city’s tax rate would increase by 25 cents, increasing the overall tax rate from 62 cents to 87 cents. 

Potts said the city moved forward with plans for the project, hiring an architect firm and a construction management firm out of Amarillo. Designs for the new building, as well as construction cost estimates, came out of those partnerships with the two firms.

Along with some of the same amenities as the previous community center, Potts said he hopes that this new facility becomes a centralized location for the city of Shamrock services. 

“We plan to have a large banquet room, of course, just like the old facility had. We’re also planning on having some breakout rooms, smaller meeting rooms for businesses (if) they need a nice place to come in. Then, in addition, we are hopeful to add new City Hall offices to this building,” he said. “We’re hopeful that with City Hall being a part of the building and attached to it, that we’ll be able to, you know, monitor the building a lot better. We’re planning to use one of the breakout rooms as our city council meeting area…Just create more of a multiuse facility instead of just a big banquet room or something like that.”

If the bond passes, Potts said the city would receive the funds in the middle of March, with construction beginning on the new facility in April 2022. Potts hopes that the new building will be constructed by the March 2023 St. Patrick’s Day celebration. 

Potts stressed that a bond election, and a subsequent tax increase, is the only way to pay for a project like this. He hopes that the community will want to have a centralized location for events, as they did prior to the community center burning down. 

“We’re very hopeful that the bond election will pass. It’s hard to estimate, you know. There’s some pushback on Facebook, the town hall meetings, you know. There were some very positive remarks and then there were some negative remarks, what you’re going to expect,” Potts said. “I mean, nobody likes to have their taxes raised, you know? They’re concerned. All we can do as the city is try and put out the facts and the information that we have that is known to be correct and factual and let people make an informed decision.”

If the bond does not pass, Potts said the city would continue its discussion regarding a backup plan. 

“There’s nothing firm in place. It took the city council 18 months to gather all the data from the community and from the committee that was formed. They’ve been through multiple site locations, multiple building designs,” he said. “This is the design we are promoting at this time and, you know, if it doesn’t pass, then, all we’ll have is the insurance funds and we’ll have to come up with a different plan, probably a smaller building.”

How to vote in this election

Early voting continues through Friday in Wheeler County for Shamrock residents. Individuals can vote at the following locations: 

  • Wheeler County Clerk Office, 401 Main Street in Wheeler
    • Thursday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
  • Shamrock City Hall Annex, 116 West Second 
    • Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 

On Tuesday, which is Election Day, residents in Wheeler County will vote by precinct. Individuals throughout the county will be able to vote at the following locations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: 

  • Precincts 1, 2, 10: Wheeler Girl Scout Hut, 306 S. Canadian St. in Wheeler; 
  • Precincts 3, 4: Commissioners Courtroom, 401 Main St. in Wheeler; 
  • Precincts 5, 6, 8: Shamrock City Hall Annex, 116 West Second in Shamrock; 
  • Precincts 7, 9: Shamrock School (old business office – south end of school) 100 S. Illinois in Shamrock. 

For more election coverage for other communities throughout the Texas Panhandle, visit MyHighPlains.com.

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