GUEST VIEW: Positive outlook right here in Ector County

By Judge Dustin Fawcett

Can you feel it? I’m not talking about the intensity of primary elections, the looming November Presidential Election, or anything else involving politics. I’m talking about the incredible positive paradigm shift taking place right here in Ector County. For many of you, it is hard to know what is taking place with all of the information overload on a daily basis. While I hope you’ve been paying attention, my goal is to fill you in on the incredible developments taking place in our community.

On February 27th, Ector County Commissioners Court voted to proceed forward with plans for a downtown Ector County Library. This project is anticipated to be approximately 54,000 square feet and funded significantly through public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations locally and statewide. I want to give a particular heartfelt thank you to all of the members of the citizen-led Library Advisory Committee. These engaged community leaders have been working on this project for over two years on a purely voluntary basis and our community will benefit tremendously from their sacrifice.

While the library is certainly something worth celebrating, I know the question on many citizens’ mind is, “what about the courthouse?” Please understand that the library is merely phase one of a multi-phased downtown project that includes the courthouse, library, parking, and greenspace renovations to truly transform Ector County and Odessa’s downtown layout. Partnerships with the City of Odessa, Odessa Development Corporation, Medical Center Hospital, and Odessa College are just a few that will be taking place in this transformational endeavor.

Since our new court took office in January of 2023, we have been working on the “Courthouse Question.” This work has included researching similar courthouse project statewide, speaking with stakeholders, fellow County Judges, builders, and architects. Additionally, we have been identifying various procurement methods that leads to a more efficient process on the construction side while also being the best avenue on the finance side to protect taxpayer dollars. Lastly,, we have spoken with prior leadership and citizens on what they saw as unaddressed gaps in previous proposals to craft the best possible plan for a generational investment.

We are building up to action points in our strategic plan that will be publicly available with imagery and overall plans in the near future. Stay tuned!

Vision is what the citizens of Ector County have been asking of their leadership at all levels and with all entities. Fortunately, we aren’t the only ones in the community who are envisioning a new-age Ector County. Our community, its citizens, and leadership they represent, is undergoing a transformation from believing capital projects are merely expenditures and a drain on taxpayer funds to instead now seeing these projects as investments in our community’s future. Many of our institutions have seen massive successes and I am proud to share a snippet of what my colleagues and our community’s leaders have been up to recently.

Dr. Scott Muri, Superintendent of ECISD, recently gave his “State of the District” presentation which included incredible stories and data regarding our students’ success in Ector County. In 2019, ECISD students were behind state averages on math, English, Kindergarten readiness, and graduates ready for career, military, or higher education. Fast forward to present time, Ector County students are now above the state average on every single one of these metrics and more!

University of Texas Permian Basin, led by President Dr. Sandra Woodley, is conducting a campus reconstruction which has included new or reconstructed buildings such as their library, Mesa building,

their “quad.” Additionally, Dr. Woodley has led the efforts on the “Wildcatter Trail” which will be a hike and bike trail bridging Odessa and Midland, seeking to improve quality of life and literally bridge the gap between our two communities.

The City of Odessa has had two major generational wins in the announcement earlier this year regarding Bass Pro Shops 100,000 square foot facility coming to Odessa, as well as the future 100-acre sports complex that will be a one-of-a-kind public private partnership thanks to the generous donation of Mr. Larry Bell.

Medical Center Hospital, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and Odessa Regional Medical Center continue to lead the Permian Basin in healthcare and have been at the leading edge of the 200-bed Mental Health facility in partnership with our friends in Midland.

Odessa College, led by President Dr. Gregory Williams, continues to win awards and produce high-level graduates while offering an incredible menu of classes and degree programs to our citizens. Additionally, they are nearing completion of their state-of-the-art Wood Health Sciences Building to help train the medical work force of tomorrow.

As citizens, I encourage you to share these stories. Engage in these projects and the many more to come. This is your community. We are living in an incredible time, and you have the opportunity to be a part of not just the history in our community, but the future.

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts by visiting me in my Courthouse Office or giving my office a call at 432-498-4100. We love nothing more than engaging in the citizens we represent.

It is an honor to represent the citizens of Ector County at such an important and positive time in our community. Ector County is heading full steam into the future. Can you feel it now?

Dustin Fawcett is the Ector County Judge.