The village offices for West Unity have a new home and the staff could not be happier.
The village hosted an open house of its new building on Jackson Street, west of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, Dec. 30. Staff and council members gave tours of the facility to one and all.
The move has been in the works for several years, Mayor Peg Bernath said. The former medical practice cost the town $100,000 to acquire and crews were busy the previous week getting the facility ready for occupancy by the village officials and the Police Department.
“It’s worked out real well and it’s a wonderful acquisition for the village,” Bernath said. “It’s a professional-looking building for the wonderful staff that we have.
“We are proud to have it and proud to have the people here.
“It’s an economical purchase and will serve us well into the future.”
The office staff will be seated in the front of the building, but with the layout would not be able to see anyone come in the building, so a video camera has been installed, Administrator Joshua Fritsch said. The front counter is open for now, but a glass divider will be installed for security reasons, he said.
The front doors of the office building are sliders and after hours the interior set will be locked, but people can call dispatch on a phone on the wall if they need a police officer, Fritsch said.
The lobby area will feature the council chambers, two public restrooms, and the front counter.
Fritsch has his own office as does Bernath (a new item). There is a small conference room for meetings and when council needs to go into executive session. The old office did not provide much in the way of privacy, he said.
The professional upgrade for the Police Department is striking. Chief JR Jones has his own office. There is a conference room with a video screen that can be used for interviewing suspects, members of the public or for training for the officers, Jones said.
The police scanner is piped through the department in the PA system (except for the conference room).
“Another big difference would be the evidence room,” Jones said. “Before we had a temporary holding place, now the officers will be able to process their evidence; everything will be contained there.”
The new evidence room storage will be accessible only by Jones and the lieutenant, Jones said. The officers will assemble their evidence and deposit it in a slot like a bank depository.
“The lieutenant is the one who processes the evidence,” Jones said. “So, that takes a step out of the (trail).
“There will be no more questions about the evidence,” Jones said.
The department will be accessible to officers through a back door and through a keyed entryway during business hours. After hours, the department will be blocked off from the rest of the building.
“It accommodates us; it suits our needs,” Jones said. “If we were going to sit down and design something it wouldn’t be too far from this.
“This is pretty spot on in my opinion.”
James Pruitt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org