Jan. 29—It’s been a long time coming but completion of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office renovation project is finally growing near, Sheriff Adam King said.
“Things are finally starting to move faster,” King said last week. “I’m hoping in about eight weeks we will finally be near the end of this.
Renovation work on the $2.7 million project began more than a year ago.
“Supply chain disruptions and other issues coming out of the pandemic,” King said of the project’s longer than expected for duration. “But, with materials finally starting to come in, things are moving along now.”
The county purchased the building around 1997, King said.
“I know this building is old, I’m not sure how old it is though,” King said. “I remember when I was a patrolman with [Cleburne Police Department] this building was Scott Paper then Kimberly Clark bought them out. before that [former Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon] they used to make sandbags here I think for Vietnam, so it’s a pretty old building.
“Anyway, the county has definitely got their money out of this building. It’s been used to its maximum and now, with this renovation, we’re going to be able to use it for a lot longer now.”
Given it’s age, the building has long had problems, King said.
“We had massive roof leaks, plumbing issues, water issues,” King said. “I was told the whole facility ran off a 1-inch water line. So, with these renovations, we’ve got the roof redone, got the water lines, sewer lines and drainage issues around the building addressed.”
Renovations were past due, County Commissioner Rick Bailey said.
“With our county growing our population of law enforcement is going to grow too,” Bailey said. “They need a nicer, more productive work environment and, as a court commissioner, we’re about defending not defunding law enforcement and public safety. So this is a good investment into public safety as our county grows.”
Commissioner Larry Woolley agreed.
“Not only do they need more room out there but those expanded training and meeting areas are also going to be a plus,” Woolley said. “That’s going to save the county time and money in the long run because they’re going to be able to hold more training sessions here as opposed to sending them out of town as we’ve had to at times in earlier years.”
The facility’s previous maze of hallways and limited space had deputies and staff cramped and in several cases sharing scarce office space.
“We needed nine offices just to break even,” King said. “But this renovation doubles the office space we had. Now, they’re going to be small offices and we’re using all the space we have for maximum efficiency, but that’s going to give us the space we need for a good long time .”
With limited space to work with, construction workers built up transforming a former storage area in the back of the building into two stories with evidence storage up top and a training area below.
For now, the desks of JCSO detectives dot the ground floor of what will soon become the training area.
Bare concrete, sheetrock and construction in progress meanwhile occupy what will soon be an improved conference area and new offices.
“It’s not much to look at now,” King said. “But the deputies and detectives are excited about it and walk over to see progress every chance they get.”
The table in the former conference area could accommodate 12 to 15 people.
“With our new table and area we should be able to accommodate all of CID and command staff at one time,” King said. “That’s important if we have a major case like a capital murder because they can lay out all the evidence, look at it and discuss the case.”
Reconfigurations from the renovations will also address and improve staff entry and safety concerns.
“We have extra restrooms, which are nice because we didn’t have enough before for the amount of staff we have here,” King said.
Commissioners last year also approved the construction of a new 911 call center building to be built between the sheriff’s office and the Johnson County Emergency Operations Center.
Dispatch workers long ago outgrew their work area in the nearby Johnson County Jail, King said.
“Once they get the new dispatch center that area where our dispatchers are now will be used for jailer training, which is also desperately needed because the area they’re using for that now is nowhere near large enough.”