Metal detecting club could make appearance at courthouse

RAYMONDVILLE — The search for long-lost coins and jewelry might turn the Willacy County Courthouse lawn into a hunting ground soon.

On Thursday, members of the Rio Grande Valley Metal Detecting Club are expected to ask county commissioners if they can search the courthouse grounds for objects lost since it was built in 1922.

“It’s an old place so there could be old coins, jewelry, badges,” John Carey, the club’s president, said yesterday.

Carey said the group wants to use its metal detectors to probe the grounds before the county launches any type of project to renovate the courthouse, closed in 2015 after mold spread across the three-story building.

“We want to try to get in there before it gets covered up or lost,” Carey, owner of a sheet metal fabrication company, said yesterday.

For 96 years, the Willacy County Courthouse grounds have served as a gathering place for residents in this farming region.

On weekdays, residents have walked the grounds waiting for their court hearings to open.

Meanwhile, families have picnicked on the lawn during weekends.

Carey said many likely arrived on horses and in buggies.

“It would be interesting to hunt there,” Carey said. “What you might find depends on the activities they had in the area.”

The search would target old metal objects lost in the area since the courthouse was built at 576 W. Main Ave.

“What could be found could be coins dating back to the 1800s,” he said. “There could be necklaces, a charm, a pin, a broach. It’s an official place so there could be a badge.”

In 2010, searchers armed with metal detectors founded the club which has combed parts of the Valley for pieces of the region’s past.

“If you like hunting for a needle in the haystack, you’ll like metal detecting,” Carey said. “Are we going to dig up an old gun? No. Are we going to dig up treasure? No. It’s fun. It’s like Easter egg hunting — you never know what you’ll dig up.”