OSHP looking for new home base

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

SOUTH POINT - The Ohio State Highway Patrol Post has grown over the years, and now is looking for a new home that fits better.

The highway patrol posts are named after the county seat, so the office will remain the Ironton Post, wherever it is located in the county.

Post Commander Lt. Carl Roark said the post moved into its current location in 1985. When they moved in the post consisted of three troopers and three dispatchers.

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"It was adequate. We've just outgrown this facility," he said. "The facility itself is in good condition. The problem that we are faced with is that it doesn't have adequate room for us to operate most effectively."

Currently, Roark said, they have 11 troopers, four sergeants, himself, five dispatchers, a secretary and a maintenance man.

The post is also the last rented OSHP facility in the state.

"We currently rent this facility, it would be more cost effective for us to build a facility that we would own with the intention of being in that facility for the next 70 to 100 years," Lt. Roark said.

Ideally the best place for the post to relocate would be somewhere in the area of South Point, because of the geography of the county and the post's crash picture - which is where the majority of the crashes occur.

Roark said the south area of the county is in the middle of the crash picture with the majority of miles traveled and crashes that occur along U.S. 52 and State Route 7.

There is also a lot of development in the Rome area, and Lt. Roark points out that as the population continues to grow, so does the number of people traveling those roadways.

"The number of troopers hasn't changed in several years even though the amount of traffic has. We continue to meet the needs of highway safety with our resources," he said.

Two areas that the post have looked at are a tract of land that the South Point school board owns, just outside of South Point and a tract of land in the City of Ironton, across from ODOT.

"Those are the two places we actively looked at and feel would serve our needs," Roark said.

In the current facility, Roark said there is not enough space in the locker room for every employee to store their gear.

They have a one-car attached garage that isn't even adequate to put a patrol car in to wash or service.

Sergeants and troopers share a room and they do not have a space adequate for a meeting of more than five people.

"That, in and of itself, is one of the most challenging things," he said. "A new facility would provide that for us, as well as a conference room that was big enough for the public to utilize as well."

Although the post is in the beginning stages of looking to acquire land and building the post, they are not in the beginning stages of the idea.

A new post has been in the planning stages for several years but, for now, remains off on the horizon.