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WV Aldermen Take First Step in Repurposing Old Armory Into Fire, Police Dept.

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

Mark McGavock presented the idea to move the Water Valley Fire and Police departments into the city’s vacant Armory Tuesday night. Photo via Google Maps.

Water Valley Fire Department Chief Mark McGavock presented to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night a plan to repurpose the now vacant Armory into a new joint fire and police department.

After renovations, the dual department building would house not only the fire and police department but sleeping quarters, classrooms and interrogation rooms that the current police station lacks.

Police Chief A.J. Hernandez currently uses the department offices to interrogate suspects in the city’s more serious crimes, he said. Those offices are frequently trafficked by the fire department, dispatch officers and other personnel, which creates a cause for concern when Hernandez is conducting investigations.

“I have no isolation and security to conduct these operations,” Hernandez said.

Alderman Cinnamon Foster said there is a need for a new fire and police department because officers and personnel are currently sleeping in quarters that are filled with mold.

The Armory, which used to house the National Guard, needs minor renovations that the firefighters would tackle themselves, McGavock said.

McGavock estimated the cost for renovations would be approximately $27,000 for materials; however, this price does not include the process of cutting a door for the fire trucks nor the roll-up garage doors for those cutouts, along with carpeting and the A/C unit for the second floor.

If the department were to outsource for the cutting of the door, it could cost the city over $9,000. McGavock said he would be able to have the Mississippi Task Force—teams that are specifically organized, trained, equipped, and postured to conduct full spectrum personnel recovery to include both conventional and unconventional rescue operations—to cut the doorway for free and consider it a “training.”

In addition to the department renovating the majority of the building themselves, McGavock said there is plenty of existing money in the Armory’s current budget which would allow savings for the city. The building currently accommodates many of the functions the department would need such as existing phone lines and bathrooms with showers. The only exception is a women’s restroom.

City Attorney Daniel Martin said he did not see a problem with the departments renovating the Armory themselves.

“You see a city employee maintaining the city’s property…I just don’t see how that’s much different than changing the oil in [the city’s] tractor,” Martin said.

Martin said the renovations would simply be the city improving what it already has, but he wants to take a closer look into the logistics to make sure there are no hidden issues.

Alderman Kagan Coughlin made the motion to move the city’s fire and police department to the vacant Armory. The vote passed unanimously.

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