Community celebrates completion ofits new $1.9 million police building

Friday was a beautiful Oregon spring morning, as several hundred towns people turned out to dedicate the community’s new $1.9 million police services building at 1954 Main.

It was unlike a stormy night five years ago that sent roaring waters of the usually tranquil Ames Creek gushing into the Sweet Home Police Department which was located in the basement of city hall.

That night, talk of the need for a new police department building swelled from whispers to a roar.

Friday’s dedication ceremony was a tribute to the tenacity of the city staff and the support of the community at large.

The new 9,975 square foot building is also testimony stubbornness and hard work. After the flood of 1996 that sent a clear message the old facility was not longer suitable–a fact the local police officers had known for some time–the department was moved into a rented modular trailer unit behind city hall.

That situation was supposed to last a year, maybe two at the most.

Friday, Police Chief Robert Burford was justifiably proud of his new office built with a reserve fund and $950,000 in public bonds.

“This is a joyous occasion for the members of the Sweet Home Police Department and the citizens of this community,” Chief Burford said.

Chief Buford said it was also a time to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty, “trying to protect and serve the public.”

An honor guard composed of Sweet Home Police Officers joined by representatives from other law enforcement agencies in the county fired a 21 gun salute in memory of those fallen officers.

Local police officers also raised the flags of the United States, Oregon and the law enforcement memorial flag.

“One year ago many of you stood here, in the cold wind and rain, as we broke ground for this facility,” Chief Burford said. “Today it becomes a reality. The building is not just wood, brick, steel and glass. It is a symbol of the pride this community has in itself as well as the confidence we hold for the future.”

Chief Burford thanked architects Mark Danielson and Julie Olson of Barrentine Bates Lee, Wayne Anderson and job superintendent Don Long from Wayne Anderson Construction.

He added a special thanks to the city staff “for putting up with my strained temper during this last year” and to the citizens of the community for their support each and every day.

Mayor Craig Fentiman said the new building, while certainly beautiful, but it is the people who work within it who make it special.

“Like a house, until you have caring people in it, it is not a home. This is the home of the Sweet Home Police Department,” Mayor Fentiman said. “It is a very nice one for a very deserving department.”

He encouraged staff to enjoy working in the new building, to be proud of it.

“I know I am proud to have been a part of the process and the entire city can be proud of its new Sweet Home Police services building and the people who work here,” Mayor Fentiman said.

State Rep. Jeff Kropf said “This is a gorgeous facility for what I consider one of the premier police departments in the valley…it is a fitting tribute to the professionalism of this organization.”

He added that it will be a blessing to the staff that during the next flood, they won’t have to come to work in wet suits.

Rep. Kropf received a cheer when he added that the new building would make a great neighbor to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training academy which the community is attempting to lure here. If successful, it would be located directly behind the new police building.

He added that although the DPSST siting committe has recommended Salem as the number one site and Sweet Home number two, the final decision has not been made. He said Sweet Home is still working hard to bring the facility here.

After the official ribbon cutting ceremony, the community was invited to take a tour of the facility. Saturday officers hosted a bicycle safety program and other fun activities for youngsters of the community.

Refreshments for the event were donated by the building’s new neighbor, McDonalds, owned by Sal Muscardin.