WATER VALLEY –The city’s fire and police departments have moved to a new location in the former armory building on Wise Street following an upgrade to the city-owned 14,000 square-foot building. The building had been utilized as an armory for 63 years before downsizing prompted the Mississippi National Army National Guard to relinquish the building back to the city in 2018.
Last year Water Valley Fire Chief Mark McGavock pitched a plan to city officials to re-purpose the building to house the departments. Working with a budget of less than $90,000, McGavock spearheaded the build-out that includes the addition of a front lobby and reception area, a classroom for training, bathroom upgrades and sleeping quarters for firemen. The work also included refreshing the existing rooms in the building that now house offices, an interview room and booking room for the police department. The departments also share a break room.
McGavock’s budget included minimal cost for labor as he and other on-duty fire fighters worked long hours at the building when time permitted. Other volunteers also assisted with the project.
“The main thing we have is office space and storage space,” Water Valley Police Chief Jason Mangrum explained about the long overdue move. Since the mid 1980s, the departments worked out of a house converted to accommodate the departments.
“We have had a lot of help, even members of the public have been up here helping get us moved in and fixed up. They donated a bunch of time,” Mangrum said.
“I was ready, we had to share computers because there wasn’t anywhere else to put one,” police department receptionist/TAC officer Debbie Jackson explained about their former cramped quarters. Jackson was among volunteers who worked countless hours on the project.
“I was beyond ready, I got out of the kitchen,” Captain Spring Crenshaw joked about the move from her former office, which was a desk in the corner of the kitchen.
COVID- 19 Precautions
When gatherings are allowed, an open house is planned to allow the public to visit the departments. But for now both Mangrum and McGavock reported thAT precautions remain in place to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 for fire fighters and police officers, which ensures services to the public are not disrupted. McGavock reported one part-time fire fighter has tested positive for the virus since the pandemic started in March. Mangrum added that one police office had symptoms of the virus, which was treated as a positive case. There have also been several incidents where police officers were may have been exposed to the virus, which prompted preemptive precautionary quarantines to ensure that the public nor other members of the department were infected.
Mangrum reiterated that precautions implemented in March for the police department remain in effect. This includes handling most non-emergency calls over the telephone. The lobby at the new police department remains closed. If you have a non-emergency call, contact the dispatcher at (662) 473-2722 and police personnel will provide assistance. Mangrum also stressed that all emergency calls remain a top priority and officers will respond.
In other police business:
• Mangrum reported that six boxes of school supplies were donated during Saturday’s “Pack the Patrol Car” at the Dollar General parking lot. Mangrum also said a second “Pack the Patrol Car” is scheduled Saturday in the parking lot at Larson’s Cash Saver from 2 to 4 p.m. The school supplies will be donated to the Water Valley School District.
• Mangrum reported that periodic checks for the city’s mask ordinance indicate that people are complying with the ordinance adopted by aldermen on July 17.
“We have done multiple unannounced checks in businesses and the compliance rate is very high,” Mangrum explained.
The ordinance requires employees at all businesses open to the public to wear a mask or face covering while working within six feet of the public. Businesses are also required to post signage notifying customers of the requirements. All persons entering a business open to the public are also required to wear a mask or face covering.