By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
A new Georgia State Patrol Post will go up soon in Hart County.
Wednesday, the Georgia Board of Public Safety announced it signed off on the beginning of discussions between the GSP and the Hart County Board of Commissioners.
The new post in the Gateway II Industrial Park off State Route 77 at Exit 177 on Interstate 85 will be designated as GSP Post 52 and will be an additional post in the area.
Currently, the Toccoa Post serves Hart County. The Toccoa post also serves Stephens, Franklin, Habersham, and Banks counties.
Georgia State Patrol Commander Colonel Mark W. McDonough said the new post would be staffed with 14 sworn personnel and a civilian employee.
McDonough said the location will provide troopers with easy access to the interstate when responding to calls and also to motorists who need assistance from the state patrol.
Hart County Administrator Jon Caime said having law enforcement there provides extra security for the community in that part of Hart County.
“It’s a bit of distance from the Sheriff in Hartwell, so there’s not much protection in that area,” Caime said. “So this will provide constant protection in that area.”
According to Caime, the county will lease the land for Post 52 to the state.
Caime said the building itself will be constructed using prison labor, but will paid for by the county.
“We’re doing the architectural and engineering work now,” Caime said. “The county will be doing the site work. So, probably about two months on the design and the engineering work that’s required and then probably another two more months in getting the site work done,” he said.
According to Caime, Hart County will use about $600,000 from its SPLOST funds to pay for construction.
32nd District State Representative Alan Powell, who represents Hart County, said he sees the new post as a benefit to the area.
“The presence of this Georgia State Patrol post on I-85, our gateway to Georgia, will pay long-term benefits for the citizens of Hart and Franklin Counties by enhanced public safety and a visible increase of state law enforcement. This partnership and the strategic location of this GSP Post will add to the marketability of the Gateway Industrial Park and adjacent industrial properties as desirable high security areas,” he added.
Meanwhile from an economic standpoint, Hart County Industrial Building Authority Director Dwayne Dye said having a state patrol post in the Gateway Two Industrial Park is also good for attracting new industry to the park, which is not yet fully developed.
“It’s the same as having a hospital close by, you’ve got great service from the City of Lavonia with police and fire protection. We’ve got a regional hospital now within five miles of the site and this new patrol office will add additional protection for people in that area. So I think overall from an economic development standpoint, it’s a big positive for us.”
Colonel McDonough said the assigned counties for the new patrol post will be determined later this year. He emphasizes that the Toccoa Post will not close.