News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, March 20, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A big crowd gathered to officially break in the new Richmond County Sheriff's Office southside precinct.
Plans for the building started early last year when Sheriff Ronnie Strength was still in office.
"I was not sold on it immediately. I was worried about the funding," Strength said.
They used inmate labor to renovate the building, and the project came in under budget.
The building used to be a jail, and it took a lot of work to turn it into the new precinct.
"It's nice, it's clean," Capt. Scott Gay said.
It's also a much-needed update from their old digs behind the Southgate shopping center.
"It just deteriorated over the many years we were over there," Gay said.
But one of the real benefits of this new building is its location on the busy Mike Padgett Highway.
"There's a lot of fatalities out here, and I think coming out here, moving the precinct out here, is going to help tremendously, especially with the traffic problem," Strength said.
"Just having a presence on the southside, having the officers able to respond, it makes all the difference in the world," said Sheriff Richard Roundtree.
It's something drivers on the southside like Tony Green are excited about.
Green drives Mike Padgett Hwy every day.
"It's real dangerous. I mean, people speed up and down these streets and they try and make these lights," Green said.
But with another fatality on Mike Padgett Highway just a week ago, deputies have their work cut out for them.
"We still have some issues out south on Mike Padgett, but the inner portion of Mike Padgett, we're seeing some results."
There's still a little bit of construction left to be done. Sheriff Roundtree says they are looking to build an easement so they can cut straight to the traffic light.
They say, right now, with the one entrance, it's difficult to get out depending on the flow of traffic.