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Vergennes police station to be ready this week

VERGENNES — The new Vergennes Police Department headquarters should be up and running by the end of this week, according to Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley.
Movers were already installing furniture last week. The last remaining hurdles are a certificate of occupancy that Hawley expects state officials to award Vergennes on Wednesday, and the move of the department’s phone and computer systems along Main Street from City Hall to the new site near Kennedy Brothers and Kayhart Crossing.
The technology piece might be the trickier one, Hawley said.
“I’m usually an optimist, aren’t I? But I’m relying on Internet and telephone. All the stuff we have here has to be over there and functioning,” he said. “There are going to be some glitches.”
Still, city officials have scheduled a ribbon cutting for 2 p.m. on Friday, and they expect the police department to be set up by then in their new 4,611-square-foot station on North Main Street.
“Once the ribbon-cutting ceremony is over, everything will be up and running on Friday,” Hawley said. “We might even be working out of there on Thursday. I just don’t want to guarantee it.”
Police Chief George Merkel is predictably excited his force will soon move out of its cramped two-room City Hall home.
“This is a long time coming,” Merkel said. “It’s something that will allow us to do our job more safely, efficiently and professionally.”
The chief said he and the members of the department are grateful for residents’ support for the $1.55 million project, which included the land purchase and other city costs.
“The community obviously approves of the job we are doing, and appreciates us,” Merkel said. “And it’s not lost upon us the expense. Each and every one of us is thankful for the support we have gotten.”
Hawley noted that the city and its contractor, Bread Loaf Corp. of Middlebury, have brought the project in at about $25,000 under budget.
Bread Loaf began with a $1.15 million construction budget that included a $50,000 contingency, and only three small change orders ate up about $11,000 of that contingency, Hawley said. Other expenses, including for furniture and phone upgrades, will chew up another $14,000 of the contingency fund, he said.
Hawley said city officials have been happy with Bread Loaf, which also brought Ferrisburgh’s town office project in on budget, according to officials there, and is now working with Middlebury officials on their town office/recreation center effort.
“Bread Loaf, to me this has gone very smoothly,” Hawley said. “There really have been no issues or interruptions that have occurred during this project.”
And Hawley said he and the members of the police force are happy with the finished product.
“I think it’s great, it really is,” he said. “We’re really pleased with the design. It really is perfect. The guys want to take a picture of the existing police facility and hang it on the wall so they remember what they used to work out of.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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