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Residents tour new Public Safety building
Event also included face painting, refreshments
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Josiah McNeal, left, gets some help from Gainesville firefighter Alex Walker while trying on a firefighters’ suit during the open house Saturday at the Gainesville Public Safety Complex. - photo by Tom Reed

The Gainesville Public Safety Complex opened its doors in November 2010, and Saturday shared its new facilities with residents at the Public Safety Open House.

The open house featured face-painting for kids, tours of the 52,000-square-foot center and the 26,000-square-foot fire station No. 1, displays of police and fire equipment and refreshments.

"We wanted to be able to share our facility with the community that helped us build it," Gainesville Chief of Police Brian Kelly said. "They are able to see what their tax dollars have provided for them."

Rising sixth-grader Ryan Irick and rising fifth-grader Pete Alexander both sang at the open house with the Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy show choir.

"It's a privilege," Ryan said of the opportunity to perform at the event. "We went into the courtroom to practice, and it was interesting in there."

Pete echoed Ryan's sentiments.

"It was an honor to be here and sing and be on TV," he said.

Flowery Branch resident Johnnie Jordan came to the open house on his wife's behest.

"My wife works for the city," he said. "She said the buildings were real nice and wanted us to see them."
Kelly said this was the first time such an event was held in the city.

"It gives them a better perspective of what firefighters do," said Jerome Yarborough, Gainesville fire department deputy chief. "There's this myth that firefighters just sit around and wait for a fire. But this gives them a chance to see the responsibilities we have and how we protect our community."

Kelly called the complex "part of a new beginning."

Gainesville Mayor Pro-Tem Danny Dunagan said the complex was completed under budget in the expected time frame and is expected to be paid off in four years.

"We are committed to the growth of this area," he said.

"It was very important to us to develop these facilities."

Regional events