By this time next year, the Georgia State Patrol could be moving into new digs along Interstate 75 in Forsyth.
The Monroe County Commission held a ceremony Thursday afternoon to begin demolition of the old post and break ground for a new building.
Post commander Sgt. 1st Class Lee Major said troopers have moved to temporary offices at the Georgia Department Corrections campus at the old Tift College.
Staff was still trying to re-establish data links for e-mail service late Thursday morning, but Major is looking forward to the upgrade from the 1970s-era red-brick building.
It is long overdue, Major said. When that post was built, life was a lot simpler.
New building codes and modern security requirements made it more cost-effective to tear down the old building instead of refurbishing it, he said.
Monroe County voters approved a special purpose local option sales tax several years ago for the project, he said.
Plans for the new building of about 7,000 square feet call for $750,000 in SPLOST funds, Major said. Monroe County Commission Chairman James Vaughn said Thursday that $500,000 came from the SPLOST, while commissioners chose to pay another $250,000 to complete the project. Vaughn said its not unusual for counties to fund building the patrol posts, and that the buildings and land revert back to the county should the state decide not to use them anymore.
Department of Corrections work crews will be used for the construction project, which is expected to take about 12 months.
We are truly thankful for the citizens of Monroe County for taking on this endeavour, Major said.
Vaughn said having the state patrol post just off I-75 only adds to the safety of county residents.
It increases our law enforcement presence, he said. They have easy access to two exits to better patrol the county and help with accidents. After all, we are the public safety capital of Georgia.
Writer Phillip Ramati contributed to this report. To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.