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Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

Maggie Valley gets new police station: It’s the town’s first new public building since incorporation in 1974

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By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

As captain of the Maggie Valley police department, Jason Moody normally keeps his emotions in check. Today, though, as he leads a tour around the police department’s new building, he’s beaming.

The new structure is the town of Maggie Valley’s first-ever new building. When it was incorporated in 1973 (?), Maggie Valley didn’t even build new town offices — today, the administration offices are still in the same place they’ve always been: an old school.

Until just a few weeks ago, the police department occupied what was once the first grade room. That area was “about 25 times larger” than its prior location, which was in a building close to First Citizen’s Bank, Moody said. When Moody first laid eyes on the police department’s new headquarters, he says, “I felt like I was going to start dropping bread crumbs to find my way around.”

Maggie Valley police had a say in nearly every facet of the building, including the design, furnishings, and even the colors. They worked with architects for two and a half years and visited other police departments in North Carolina to scope out their facilities. In all, the town shelled out $1.2 million for the building, according to finance officer Shane Wheeler.

The smell of fresh paint is still prominent as Moody opens the door to the department. In front, there’s an ample waiting room complete with a display showcasing articles and memorabilia from the building’s namesake, I.C. Sutton — the town’s first cop.

Moody opens a door to reveal a hallway that winds around to the back of the building. Here, there are two interview rooms for interrogating suspects. This is markedly different from the old police department in town hall, which had zero interview rooms.

“Hopefully, if the chief wasn’t too busy, we’d use his office, or the cafeteria, or the quilt room,” Moody chuckles.

This hallway also boasts spacious offices for Moody, Captain Scott Sutton and Detective Archie Shuler.

There’s even an empty office for a future detective the department hopes to hire. Moody explains that the building was planned to accommodate the department for 20 years, which is why there’s extra space and room to expand.

Down the hall and through another door is a large room with computers, phones, and a television. This is the squad room, or “meat and potatoes of the department,” Moody says, where officers conduct many of their duties. Each officer gets his or her own secure filing cabinet and can do reports on one of the many computers. A room off of the squad room will one day house a sergeant who will oversee police officers.

Downstairs, Moody points out perhaps the biggest change of all — a secure evidence room that only two officers have access to. Other officers can come down and put evidence in an individual locker before it gets tagged, labeled, and filed away.

In the former police department, the evidence room was in a coat closet with padlocks, Moody says.

Next to the evidence room is a secure armory that houses the department’s arsenal of guns. Also downstairs is plenty of storage space (the department was forced to rent out storage spaces around town before), and exercise, locker and shower rooms. A secure garage at the end of the hall allows for a place to impound vehicles. Next to that, a conference room with a large table, chairs, fridge, flat screen television, stove and sink is available for use by the officers. Before, a gathering of more than six people left the department scrambling for a space.

“This building has helped us become a more efficient department,” Moody says. “We’re in hog heaven.”

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