The New Rockwall County Court House officially opened for business on 11/11/11. The ceremonies started at 4:00 p.m. with the dedication of the Veterans Memorial. At 5:30 p.m. Judge Jerry Hogan and other dignitaries gave speeches and cut the ribbon officially opening the controversial 37.2 million dollar Rockwall County Court House. As Judge Hogan said in his opening remarks “ Whether you agree or not here it is”. The Rockwall County Commissioners Court voted to approve issuing funding for the building even though voters voted down two bond elections for the Court House. Jerry Hogan’s big campaign issue criticized the Commissioners Court for not representing the wishes of the people.
The Veterans Memorial dedication was truly a once in a lifetime event. Lee Gilbert, a long time Rockwall Resident and Vietnam Veteran was the Master of Ceremonies and did an outstanding job. Veterans from each war era were present and recognized and over 1500 people attended the historic event. Lee Gilbert was partially responsible for the planning, preservation of funds, and the ceremony which made it official.
Highlights of the Veterans Memorial Ceremony include a flag ceremony and the raising of the POW MIA flag. A missing man fly over with planes representing each branch of the Armed Forces was impressive. The keynote speaker was Rear Admiral Robert Smith, a Rockwall County native from Fate Texas. Four men, each form different war eras, were honored for their service. They were Corporal H. Robert Charles USMC for WWI, PFC Jim Nicholson USMC for WWII, Specialist 5 Joseph Lynch USA for Vietnam and Specialist Jerod Osborne USA for the Gulf War. A brief story was told about each man describing their heroic acts of bravery.
At 5:30 Judge Hogan took the microphone. He thanked all of the commissioners and others who were responsible for the planning and building of the Court House. Brad Lamberth gave his explanation of the Court House inscription “In God We Trust” and then gave the convocation. Dennis Bailey, with the help of his Grandchildren, threw the switch turning on the lights. Judge Hogan, along with the Commissioners Court and the Rockwall County Judges cut the ribbon and the grand Court House was officially open.
It is truly a beautiful building and it does reflects it’s 37.2 million dollar price tag. Whether you like it or not you should visit the new Courthouse to see it for yourself. After all it is your money!