The troopers of Gainesville’s Georgia State Patrol Post 6 finally got into their new digs this week.
After 18 months working out of trailers and more than five years since plans began, post officers and staff this week began moving into the new 13,000-square-foot, $3.5 million facility on Cleveland Highway, which still needs some paving and landscaping work before it’s finished.
Post 6 has 16 troopers who patrol Hall, Banks and White counties, but the new facility also houses all radio communications for the state patrol’s Troop B, which encompasses 20 Northeast Georgia counties and has posts in Gainesville, Athens, Toccoa, Blue Ridge and Cumming.
A recent decision to centralize radio communications means 17 radio operators will work at the new post, some from other posts commuting two hours or longer each way.
For those employees and others who work overnight, the new post has eight sleeping quarters with showers and bathrooms, a lounge and a kitchen. There’s also a workout room and much larger evidence and training rooms than the old facility, which was built in 1966.
“All in all, it’s a lot better facility than what we had,” post commander Sgt. Dean Allen said. “The other one was basically beyond repair.”
The old post had a leaky roof, mold and exposed wiring, and at 5,000 square feet, some cramped conditions.
The new post has room to hold training sessions with troopers from across Northeast Georgia, and will also serve as backup to state headquarters in the event of an emergency in Atlanta.
The asphalt driving range behind the building where the patrol used to conduct road tests for driver’s license applicants has been torn up and will be replaced by green space and a line of cypress trees.
Since the state Department of Driver Services took over driver’s license duties, the only time members of the public visit the post now is to get accident reports.
The facility was paid for through a 15-year bond issuance by the Hall County Board of Commissioners. The state of Georgia does not have a capital outlay budget for state patrol facilities, leaving it up to counties to pay for the posts.
Hall County Commission Chairman Tom Oliver said he felt the facility will more than pay for itself through the revenues troopers bring in from traffic citations.
There was talk of moving the Post 6 headquarters closer to Interstate 85 in Banks County, and it was important for Hall County to keep the post, he said.
“It provides visibility for the state patrol in our area, and some revenues that might go to other counties will go to Hall County,” Oliver said. “They wanted to stay here, and we wanted to make sure we worked with them.”
Last year, the patrol brought in about $950,000 in revenues to Hall County through citations, Allen said, and worked more than 3,000 accidents. The patrol works all fatal wrecks and most serious accidents with injuries in Hall County. Post 6 is the third-busiest post in the state, Allen said.
Hall County commissioners “were able to see the need and stepped up to the plate,” Allen said. “Hopefully for the next 40 years they’ll have a nice facility here they can be proud of.”