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Walthourville readies for police, new city hall

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POSTED: March 20, 2009 9:15 a.m.
“Four eyes are better than two. Eight eyes are better than four,” according to Walthourville Police Chief Terry Harget, who said he wants to get out, be seen and deter crime.
“Our goals are to improve the quality of life in Walthourville and the surrounding communities, to service our customer base, which is our citizens,” said Harget, a 21-year law enforcement veteran.
Harget became police chief for the county’s second-largest municipality after serving on a police force in New York and as a captain with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office in the Atlanta area for nine years.
Walthourville’s jurisdiction, which is roughly five square miles in diameter, currently has two certified police officers and, Harget said, they will hire one more.
He commended the sheriff’s office for its past police protection but said, judging from the feedback he’s getting, the community already feels an attachment to the new police department.
“They know that with their own police department, we’ll have better response time[s],” Harget said. “We’re going to build upon what the sheriff department has done over the years.”
As one of his priorities, Harget plans to focus on the municipality’s seniors and children, implementing summer camps and mentoring programs to provide “some redirection for kids who get in trouble for the first time.”
“We want to make sure we let them know that we care and we’re concerned,” Harget also said of the city’s elderly population. “I think what we really need to service is the whole community.”
Harget said he thinks police presence is the community’s biggest concern.
“They weren’t seeing them enough and they want to see more officers, more often in the neighborhood,” Harget said.
He suggests residents attend city council meetings, listen to WPD updates and keep the lines of communication open.
“And when our officers are in the neighborhood — they’ll be rolling around the neighborhoods with their windows down — just wave at us. We’ll stop and let you know what we’re doing,” Harget said.
The department motto is professionalism, integrity and courage.
“They should expect courteous, professional service with officers who have integrity in their heart,” Harget said. “Service with a smile.”
The new city police officers will hit the streets as the mayor and city council prepare to move into a new city hall building, according to project contractor Ray Mehalko with Tri-County Construction.
Complete with an elevator and a drive-through billpay window, the city is set to move into its new offices next to the Walthourville volunteer fire department as early as next week.
“I believe the elevator was because ... we have a very high amount of elderly people in the Walthourville area,” Mehalko said. “Having to go up and down those stairs would definitely put a hurting.”
Work for the 2,000-
square-foot, two-story building took about five months.
The new city hall on Busbee Road, off Talmadge, is an overhaul of an old 1920s home, built by someone who used to work on the railroad.
“We’re taking an old home and turning it into an office, trying to keep the history of the building intact,” Mehalko said, comparing it to Flemington’s City Hall.
Workers took out all the bad wood and fitted the building with new floor joists and new wiring.
“The house was actually leaning about six inches to one side,” Mehalko explained. “It wasn’t level.”
In order to level the building, Mehalko explained they used the same 120-pound jack used for railroad cars.
The old city hall building will go through some retouching and become the new police department.
“The building used to be an old railroad depot in the early 1900s and this is the first major facelift since then,” Mehalko said. “Each one of the buildings have a history behind it.”
Plans are also in the works to renovate the outside of the fire station to maintain a unified theme.

 

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