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Sheriffs office hopes South Precinct will open by early fall
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Construction work has begun on the Hall County Sheriff’s Office’s South Precinct. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Progress is steady on renovations to the satellite headquarters for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes said an opening date hasn’t been locked in, but the office has its sights on an early fall arrival.

And an opening coinciding with the start of the 2014-2015 school year would complement one of the goals of expansion: a stronger tie to local schools.

“That will be nice to have them down in that location, to have a presence that close to our schools,” said Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield.

The South Hall precinct — which Sheriff Gerald Couch has described as more a headquarters because it will approach the scope of the downtown law enforcement center — will be on Cody Drive in Braselton, just a few miles from Flowery Branch High School.

Lt. Earl Roach, who coordinates safety for county schools, said the presence is both a community builder and an added reassurance.

“Really what I look forward to is the quicker response times coming from the South Precinct,” he said.

Couch first explained his plans for North and South Hall precincts to the Hall County Board of Commissioners at an October work session.

The site for the South Precinct was approved in January, and the grand opening of the relocated and renovated Clermont precinct on Dean Street was held in April. The 7345 Cody Drive facility will be the first full-service sheriff’s office complex south of Gainesville.

Renovation crews, including inmate labor, are in the process of tearing down walls inside the 10,000-square-foot brick building, which sits on more than 2 acres of land. The next construction phase for renovating the former day care center will be painting and rewiring.

Roach said the move won’t necessarily create a stronger tie but will make it easier to maintain an already solid relationship.

“There’s opportunity for officers to stop by any school and make it part of their routine patrol. And that’s something that they have been doing, but it will be easier coming from the South Precinct,” he said.

Schofield agreed, although he said the schools are always looking to enhance their relationship in other ways.

“We’re always open to looking at new and innovative ways we can partner; ways that they can be in our schools,” he said.

Schofield added that the more integrated their partnerships are with all public safety agencies, the better the outcome for children.

“It’s amazing what we can get done if we don’t worry about who gets the credit,” he said. “We’re just very blessed to have the kind of relationship we have both with the sheriff’s office and the county fire services.”