By LANESSA MURPHY-SPAGNUOLO
News & Journal Staff Writer
It is no surprise by now that the Troop One Command Headquarters of the West Virginia State Police is relocating from its longtime home in Shinnston to a brand new facility on Morgantown Avenue in Fairmont.
The aim forrelocationis to make the headquarters more centralized to better serve Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Taylor, Preston, Wetzel, Marshall, Tyler, Ohio, Brooke, and Hancock Counties.
But the relocation is long past due for the headquarters, as the building it presently occupieswas built in the early 1900s and is essentially falling apart.
According to Capt. Dennis Johnson of the West Virginia State Police, the building repairs would be extremely pricey.
“The roof is flat and is leaking; some of the leaks we can’t stop. Replacing it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
Capt. Johnson also added that the boiler is from the 1940s and parts to repair it are practically obsolete.
The new building will house both the headquarters and the Fairmont Detachment, and will include a 5,000-foot maintenance garage.
Though the headquarters will be moving away from Shinnston, Capt. Johnson said ‘the police presence in Shinnston will not be changing’ as the HQ office is primarily administrative and manned by four senior officers and maintenance crews. Hestressed that the Bridgeport Detachment of the State Police is not going anywhere and will continue to patrol Shinnston as always.
The Shinnston headquarters has been in town for a long time now. Capt. Johnson noted that at the time the building was built, the State of West Virginia was broken into regions forming Companies A and B. Company A was housed in Shinnston and was responsible for radio dispatch, which it still is. It then served 31 counties with only 51 officers patrolling the area.
The state has restructured several times;it went from two companies, A and B, to four, A,B, C, and D. But in the late 1990’s, the state dispersed into the troop designations. There are currently eight. Troop Onein Shinnston is the most northern.
“We’ve been neighbors here for many years,” Capt. Johnson remarked. “We’re not moving out because we don’t want to be here; we just want to be more centrally located.”
Plans are in the works for the old building and grounds. A developer won the highest bid, but no further details are being released at this time.
“What will be done in this location will be more beneficial to the community than us remaining here,” Capt. Johnson closed.
The new State Police Headquarters is set to open towards the end of the year.