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Pa. State Police move to new barracks

September 30, 1998

PA State PoliceBy DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Most of the troopers at the Chambersburg barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police were in plain clothes Wednesday, but instead of carrying firearms, they were hauling boxes and furniture into their new headquarters at 679 Franklin Farm Lane.

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"There have been some headaches, but this too shall pass," Barracks Commander Lt. Thomas Barkdoll said at the nearly empty old barracks on Walker Road.

The process of moving had been going on for several days, but Wednesday was the first official day of occupancy in the new 11,218-square-foot barracks.

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That's twice the size of the barracks that has been home to the troopers for the past decade. Some finishing touches were being put on the building by subcontractors doing landscaping and laying tiles and carpet.

A moving company was helping with the relocation, but Barkdoll said many items had to be moved by troopers because of liability and legal concerns. In addition to personal gear, troopers were moving weapons and ammunition, case files and physical evidence from ongoing cases, "to maintain the chain of evidence."

"I'd say 60 percent of the moving was done by us," Sgt. James Murphy said.

Murphy, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, said many troopers spent the weekend carting equipment, furniture and files to the new barracks less than a mile away.

The building cost $645,000, according to Randy McWilliams, contracting supervisor for Commonwealth Realty of Erie, Pa. He said the company will own the building and lease it to the Pennsylvania State Police for $4,300 a month.

McWilliams said there is locker space for 89 troopers at the new facility. Barkdoll said the current strength is about 67 troopers, officers and staff.

McWilliams said ground was broken April 9 on the one-story brick barracks.

"You're going to have the ability to manage the equipment and the manpower a lot better," said Murphy, who noted the patrol room is triple the size of the old one. It has a large conference room he said will be needed for managing major incidents.

Murphy said the barracks is the busiest in the half dozen counties that make up Troop H in South Central Pennsylvania. He said drunken driving arrests are running about 150 above last year and traffic citations are about 2,000 ahead of last year.

While Commonwealth Realty owns the building, Franklin County owns the 2.6 acres it sits on. Commissioner Cheryl Plummer said the land is being leased to the company for $1,000 a year.

At the end of the lease, which could run through 2022, the county can buy the building and all improvements for $146,000.

Earlier this year, the county purchased the old barracks for $535,000, using money from savings realized by refinancing a bond issue. In a few months it will house the county's probation department, which is now squeezed into offices on Franklin Farm Lane.

Plummer said the building needs new paint, carpet and handicapped-accessible restrooms before the department can move in early next year.

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