SURGOINSVILLE — The total cost to purchase and renovate Surgoinsville’s new police department office on Main Street won’t even be as high as buying and outfitting a new patrol car.
But then again, it doesn’t take much space to house a department consisting of only two full-time officers.
Earlier this year Surgoinsville paid $14,000 for a dilapidated 432-square-foot, two-room storefront building in downtown Surgoinsville which used to be an insurance office. The deal also included the vacant lot next door.
The local Medical Board, which provides charitable funding for many Surgoinsville projects, agreed to pay $8,000 for renovation materials while most of the labor has been donated by town officials, police Chief Jeff Hesoun, and local volunteers John Jones and J.C. Miles.
“John and J.C. are both retired, and they’ve been working 40 hours a week out here with me doing this,” Hesoun said Thursday. “They even bring me lunch. Their wives bring them lunch and they let me eat, too.
“They’ve just contributed an enormous amount to this project.”
Hesoun said he hopes to be moved into the new police station by Christmas. There will still be work to do after the move, such as elevating the adjacent lot for conversion into an asphalt parking lot.
The police department currently shares a crowded building on Old Stage Road with the fire and maintenance departments.
“Our main goal in doing this was to be more accessible to the public, and for there to be security in our records keeping and our evidence storage, and the old building just didn’t lend itself to that,” Hesoun said.
The new building was in pretty rough shape when the town bought it. Hesoun said the floor sagged in the middle and probably wouldn’t have held the weight of more than two men.
The roof also sagged and leaked, and they literally gutted the interior down to the frame and rebuilt it.
“We replaced the trusses, new floor, new roof, new walls, new ceiling, and we’ve got some new windows on order and hopefully they’ll arrive soon,” Hesoun said. “Including heating and air this whole project is going to come in less than $30,000, and we spend about that much on a marked and equipped patrol car. A patrol car wears out, but this should last us a long time.
“It’s not the biggest place in the world, but we don’t need a big place.”
Aside from Chief Hesoun, the department consists of one other full-time officer — Reggie Evans — and five part-time officers drawn from the ranks of the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office. Occasionally there are two officers on duty at the same time, but usually there’s only one.
The building consists of a 144-square-foot front room which will be the lobby, and the 288-square-foot rear room where the actual police office will be located.
Hesoun recently found an album containing old Surgoinsville police photographs from the 1970s, and he plans to have some of them blown up, framed and hung in the new lobby. He wants the lobby to be a bit of a museum, and also plans to display the blue light off the very first patrol car used by Surgoinsville.
There’s also a small basement beneath the larger rear room, and although it’s been rumored that the basement will be used for a jail, Hesoun said that’s not true. The basement will be used for storage, although he jokingly wrote “Homicide Division” on the door.
One of the final touches will be a basketball court that Hesoun plans on installing in the parking lot after it is paved. He said he wants to invite local youngsters to use the court when it’s completed, and that will hopefully give him an opportunity to meet and get to know local youths.