December 1, 2009, was a day that Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman and the members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office had long been waiting for. It was on that day that a dedication ceremony and open house was held at the new facility that houses the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Actually, the Sheriff’s Office quarters are not new, just new to the Sheriff and his department. The building, constructed in 1973, was the home of Appalachian Power Company for 33 years. In 2006, the power company relocated to a new building and their old building was vacant for several months.
Then, in 2007, Sheriff Newman realized the building was for sale. “The county had talked of building a new facility for our Sheriff’s Office as we had outgrown our current location – we were operating out of four buildings, with our dispatch center a mile down the road — but the cost of a new building was between six and eight million dollars,” said the Sheriff.
After several meetings with the County Facility Committee and the Board of Supervisors, the building, which is situated on eight acres, was purchased in December 2008 for 2.4 million dollars.
Plans immediately began for renovations to the facility. “There were a lot of open areas in the building that would need to be divided into office space,” said the Sheriff. Sheriff’s Office administrative staff members took the building’s blueprints and determined which divisions would fit best in the various locations within the building.
Finally, in mid-October 2009, the facility was ready to be occupied and the move took place. The 54,000 square-foot building houses all Sheriff’s Office divisions and the county’s Information Services, Emergency Services and General Services Departments. Central Dispatch is expected to move by early spring, and a new EOC (Emergency Operations Center) is planned for the facility.
“With the technology that our office has incorporated in our patrol vehicles, i.e., mobile data terminals, in-car cameras and AVL’s (automated vehicle locators), the Information Services Department is a very good fit in our new facility,” said Sheriff Newman.
The facility has a workout room with free weights, exercise machines and treadmills. Showers for both men and women and a locker room also compliment the building.
There are numerous garage bays for housing the Sheriff’s Office Mobile Command Center, as well as the Mounted Patrol and Dive Team trailers. With the garage bays that are available at the new facility, the Sheriff’s Office was able to employ a part-time mechanic to perform oil changes, brake work and other minor repairs to the Sheriff’s Office fleet of vehicles. This will be both a money and time saving benefit for the Sheriff’s Office.
The $400,000 used to renovate the facility came from asset forfeiture funds that the Sheriff’s Office had accumulated by working with federal law enforcement on various criminal investigations. “The renovations to our new Sheriff’s Office did not cost our county taxpayers one dime. I like using money from criminals’ assets to fund law enforcement projects,” said Sheriff Newman.
State Police Superintendant Colonel W. Steven Flaherty was the keynote speaker for the dedication ceremony which was attended by 150 citizens and various dignitaries from the county and state.
“Our ‘new’ facility will better serve the citizens of Washington County by having Sheriff’s Office functions under one roof,” stated Sheriff Newman. “We are a professional, accredited Sheriff’s Office, and now we have a facility that we can be proud of and one that will serve our Sheriff’s Office for many years to come.”