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State Patrol post to get a new home
Georgia State Patrol Operator Brandon Marcus works inside the temporary building at Post 6 Friday morning as preparations continue for demolition of the current building. A new, larger building will be constructed at the same site on U.S. 129.

When Gainesville’s Georgia State Patrol Post 6 first opened, Carl Sanders was governor and Ford Galaxie patrol cars pulled out onto Cleveland Highway.

Today, in the era of Sonny Perdue and Dodge Chargers, the 20-plus troopers and support staff who work out of the 42-year-old building are looking forward to getting newer, larger facilities that will increase the profile for local state patrol operations.

On Monday, state patrol personnel moved out of the aging 5,000-square-foot building and into temporary quarters in preparation for the post’s demolition. In its place, a modern facility of more than twice the square footage will go up in the coming year, built by Hall County at a price estimated at $2.5 million to $3 million and funded through a 15-year bond issuance.

For the next year to 18 months, Post Commander Sgt. Dean Allen’s troops will operate out of a pair of trailers and an existing building on site.

"It’s going to be tight, but in the long run it will be worth it," Allen said.

The old post "had seen better days," Allen said.

From a leaky roof to mold to antiquated electrical wiring and ventilation systems, the post was in bad need of renovations that in the long run wouldn’t make financial sense, Allen said.

Hall County agreed to a lease arrangement with the state similar to what other counties have paid to keep the posts in their backyards. The state patrol has no capital outlay budget for new post facilities and relies on the counties it serves to shoulder those costs, said Department of Public Safety Project Management Coordinator Bridget Peppers.

Hall County Commission Chairman Tom Oliver said keeping the state patrol from relocating was worth the price of building a new post. He said there was talk of moving the post closer to Interstate 85 in Banks County. Post 6 serves White, Banks and Hall counties.

"We feel like it’s an asset for the community for that post to remain here," Oliver said "When we have the post here, that means more traffic (from troopers) here."

Oliver believes county revenues from fines and fees that come through Hall’s court system as a result of trooper citations will "more than cover the bonds" over the long term.

The chairman said commissioners are in agreement that it is time to build a new post.

"We toured the facility, and there truly is a need for it," Oliver said.

The new post, at approximately 12,000 square feet, will include overnight quarters for eight and house the mainframe computer servers that will serve as back-ups for the state patrol’s Atlanta headquarters, Peppers said.

In fact, Gainesville’s post will be the back-up for state headquarters in all aspects, including disaster and event coordination and staging, meeting space and radio communications, Allen said.

"If something happens in Atlanta, this will be headquarters," Allen said.

In addition, the new post will consolidate all radio operations for a 20-county area of Northeast Georgia. Georgia State Patrol Troop B encompasses posts in Gainesville, Athens, Toccoa, Blue Ridge and Cumming. All radio communications for those posts will be dispatched through Gainesville once the new facility is completed, allowing for better coordination using the latest computer-assisted dispatch technology, Allen said.

Allen could not say whether the number of troopers operating out of the post would increase. With the third-highest number of wreck calls of any post, Post 6 is already one of the best-staffed posts in the state, with 18 road troopers. The post averages about 2,500 wreck calls a year, Allen said.

But Allen added that the patrol has many other duties, from safety education to special details at events like this weekend’s Georgia football game.

"Beyond working wrecks and writing tickets, we do a lot of other things that people don’t always know about," Allen said.

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