GATESVILLE — Coryell County is waiting on inspections to renovate a 70-year-old building into a new mental health facility.

The county is looking to convert part of the old Mental Health and Mental Retardation building at 207 N. Lutterloh St. into a 10-bed, 24/7 mental health services facility.

Construction however is waiting on clearance from the state fire marshal and the city’s asbestos inspector, County Judge John Firth said earlier this week.

The building, once the county hospital, will house a transitional mental health care center as part of a four-year project funded through a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver, Firth said. The waiver should provide $1.50 federal matching funds for every local $1.

The county is working on the waiver application with Central Counties Services, which serves Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas and Milam counties.

Firth said the state fire marshal granted a waiver from the required sprinkler system on the condition the facility be staffed 24 hours a day and has no more than eight overnight residents at any time.

A city inspection showed there is asbestos in the building, but not in areas being renovated, Firth said.

Construction will include plumbing, electrical and structural modifications to make the rooms handicap accessible, said Commissioner Don Jones, who is overseeing the work for the county.

Jones said he will get estimates for the work. Firth said he did not think the project would cost more than $20,000.

For flexibility and cost savings, Central Counties Services asked for 10 rooms to be prepared for the center — eight for men and two for women — instead of the 16-bed facility initially planned.

To qualify for fiscal year 2012-13 funding, the renovation must be completed by the end of September, Firth said.

Central Counties Services is still investigating possible sites for a second phase of the project — a 30-bed crisis-respite center close to Metroplex Hospital, Firth said.

Contact Tim Orwig at

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