A few boxes are still unpacked and some offices appear in transition, but overall, employees are all smiles after starting to move into the new Richmond County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 17.
“It’s a motivator,” Chief Deputy Sid Hatfield said as he sat in an office that smelled of fresh paint. “It’s exciting for these men and women. They worked for a long time in that old building under less than normal circumstances.”
The “old building” across the street at 401 Walton Way had been plagued with problems since opening in 1985. Mold, flooding and leaks were common for the employees who rarely got used to working in the building and an unpleasant, wet smell.
Col. Gary Powell said he has heard 99 percent positive comments on the new headquarters.
Construction began in August 2011 by Potts Construction, which also worked on the new courthouse on James Brown Boulevard, and finished the sheriff’s complex ahead of schedule.
In April, project manager Jay McClellan predicted an October move-in date.
A few employees are still going to offices in the old building, but Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he anticipates seeing everyone settled into the new surroundings in the next few days..
The 35,000-square-foot building will house administration, records, the civil division and criminal investigations. The crime scene unit previously working out of an Eighth Street office will also move to the new building.
The Narcotics Division is the only part of the sheriff’s office that will not be housed at 400 Walton Way.
Among the shiny new items is a large Richmond County sheriff’s star, about 5 feet by 5 feet, on the floor of the lobby.
“It says who we are,” Strength said of the decoration.
Problems have been minimal, surprising many who expected a least a few glitches that might be associated with such a large move.
The future of the “old building” is undetermined.
More moves are in the future for the sheriff’s office.
The remaining jail employees now working in the booking area at 401 Walton Way will be moved to the Charles B. Webster Detention Center on Phinizy Road after the completion of the new intake area in about 11 months.
The south substation will move from Southgate shopping center on Gordon Highway to a building being renovated on Mike Padgett Highway.
Strength said he hopes to move before November.