County making plans for possible new courthouse

Proposed location would be next to new library

The Ector County Courthouse photographed on June 12, 2020. (Odessa American File Photo)

More than a decade after their last attempt for a new courthouse, the Ector County Commissioners are considering bringing a bond proposal for a new building during the November 2025 election.

If voters approve the bond, the new Ector County Courthouse would be built around East Second Street and North Texas Avenue, across the street from what will be the new Ector County Library.

The new library location, approved by commissioners during their Feb. 27 meeting, will relocate the Ector County Health Department at 211 N. Texas Ave. A new home for health department staff has yet to be decided but could land at the site of the old library.

Government bonds are issued to raise money to finance projects or day-to-day operations. Residents must vote and approve a bond before a taxing entity can issue debt.

Requests for proposals are in the works, as are negotiations with the federal government about acquiring the land where the post office currently sits at 200 N. Grant Ave.

Dustin Fawcett

“We’re working on (obtaining) that post office location, which is directly to the east of where the health department is and where the new library is going to be,” Ector County Judge Dustin Fawcett said.

The new library and courthouse are scheduled to be part of a larger Ector County Complex which will see the courthouse at 300 N. Grant Ave., become a future civic park across from the new Odessa College Park at Fourth and Jackson.

North Texas Avenue between East Second and Fourth Street would be closed to allow foot traffic, and additional parking, including a parking garage, would be built.

The last bond election for a new courthouse was in 2013, when residents voted against the measure.

“It’s a big project … and it will literally change our community for generations,” Fawcett said. “The attention to detail that goes into this really matters and we’ve already started doing the hard work.”


While the future of a new courthouse is to be determined, the plans for a new library are already in place, with groundbreaking scheduled for January 2025 and opening in January 2027.

The new 54,079 square-foot building would be two stories, featuring a common central support area, kid zones and meeting rooms.

The current library at 321 W. Fifth St., has been home to the library since 1981. The new library would be the first new building for a library since the second library was built in 1942.

Fawcett said plans for the old library building are the topic of many conversations and meetings between the County, the City, Medical Center Hospital and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Nothing is firmed up but Fawcett said the County Health Department could be located there along with some type of community medical location to help ease the traffic on MCH’s Emergency Room. “Rather than someone who is indigent going to the ER for what can be handled by a physician at more of a clinic…we are giving that some thought and meeting this week about all these things.”

Fawcett said there are still hopes to complete some type of a municipal plaza/courthouse as a partnership with the city.

The Ector County Library, 321 W. Fifth St.


Ector County Library Director Howard Marks

Ector County Library Director Howard Marks said a library committee has spearheaded the project. The cost of the new building is expected to be around $60 million and would be raised through public-private partnerships with local organizations.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be able to work on this project,” Marks said. “It’s been a real team effort, and the advisory committee has been incredible.”

Using $250,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act, Fawcett said the money was used to fund a study through The Ivy Group.

The group’s 2022 report stated the library needed a new building, and input by Ector County residents showed they wanted to see the building as a lively community hub.

Problems such as flooding and technical issues have plagued the current building. The report stated the state of the building was one of the main reasons residents were not visiting the library, and updates would “not suffice.”

Craig Stoker

Craig Stoker, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels of Odessa who is also on the library’s committee, wants the new building to be more than just a place to check out books.

“This needs to be about learning, this needs to be about workforce development, this needs to be about healthcare, this needs to be about the arts and this needs to be a community resource,” Stoker said.

Another category highlighted in the report was reaching more people, including Spanish-speaking residents.

A 2022 report from the Literacy Coalition of the Permian Basin states counties in the Permian Basin rank among the least literate and least educated in the United States, and 33% of students reading at or above grade level by ninth grade.

“The library is for everyone,” Marks said. “I think the main difference with the new building is that it’s going to accommodate a lot more people and offer a lot more services.”

A proponent of the library, Fawcett said he recently took his daughters to the Dr. Seuss Party at the library. The son of an educator, he stressed the importance of reading and how it offers the chance to explore new worlds and pass on favorite stories to a new generation.

“We deserve nice things in Ector County,” Fawcett said. “We work for them, and these buildings will last for decades. We want to be aggressive, we want something beautiful, and we want something that our community can be proud of.”