GROVETOWN, Ga. - The new Georgia State Patrol post being constructed on Chamberlain Road near Grovetown is about six weeks ahead of schedule - meaning that troopers will be moving from their current post in Thomson sooner than originally thought.
"We're hoping to get into our new building sometime between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15," said Georgia State Patrol Lt. Donnie Smith, who helps oversee a 22-county Troop E area. "It's going to be so much larger and nicer for our troopers. And it's going to be good for our morale."
Since 1963, troopers have worked out of Thomson Post No. 25.
"I grew up in this post, first as a trooper and then serving as a sergeant and now a lieutenant," Lt. Smith said. "I've had a lot of fond memories at the Thomson post as I'm sure a lot of troopers have."
Even though the GSP post is moving to neighboring Columbia County, they will still be patrolling and working wrecks in McDuffie, Warren and Glascock counties, according to Lt. Smith, as well helping patrol in Columbia and Richmond.
"We've been in Thomson for a long time, and we've made a lot of good friends in this area," Lt. Smith said. "We're looking forward to maintaining those friendships and establishing new friendships at our new post in Columbia County."
Last year, Columbia County officials allocated $2 million towards the construction of a new state patrol post. The funds came from excess Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
The new post, which is being built by R.C.N. Contracting, Inc. of Augusta, has a projected price tag of $1.7 million, Lt. Smith said. John Rule of Statesboro, Ga., is the architect. The new post is designed and modeled after the Statesboro GSP post, which is now about three years old.
Lt. Smith said he had spoken numerous times with Lt. Bill Hitchens concerning the likes and dislikes of their post in Statesboro.
"We got a lot of input from him about their new post," Lt. Smith said. "As a result of talking with him, we were able to build a bigger building for roughly the same amount of money it cost them. We felt like we came out way ahead on this project - getting more building for less money on the taxpayers."
Another $70,000 in savings to taxpayers was realized when it was decided not to install a sprinkler system underneath the carport at the new patrol post in Grovetown, Lt. Smith said.
"We learned how to use both the money and space a little better," he added.
The new post will offer spacious offices for administration officials, work stations for up to 14 troopers at a time, a community conference room and a state-of-the-art regional radio communications room. There also will be a new kitchen/dining area, rest rooms, gym/weight room and environmentally-friendly car washing station. Additionally, there also will be sleep quarters to accommodate up to 12 troopers/radio operators.
"I'm very happy that we're getting a new post," Lt. Smith said. "Our troopers will have a lot more room to do their jobs with new work stations. And I think it will create a big boost in our overall morale."