Patrol post expansion completed

The newly expanded West Jefferson Highway Patrol Post includes a community room (on the far right).
Close-up view of the exterior of the patrol post’s community room.
Interior view of the community room, which is available for use by the public.
Celebrating the completion of renovations at the West Jefferson High Patrol Post are: (from left) State Rep. Chris Widener, post commander Lt. Kenneth Ward, Ohio State Highway Patrol superintendent Col. Richard H. Collins, Ohio Department of Public Safety director Henry Guzman, and Columbus District commander Capt. Arthur J. Combest.
 
Kay Routte, a dispatcher for the West Jefferson Highway Patrol post, can monitor activity inside and outside the facility via video feed from six security cameras, a new feature of the newly renovated post.

More space, beefed-up security, and a community room are among the features of the newly renovated and expanded West Jefferson post of the Highway Patrol.

The $800,000 project took a year to complete, during which the Patrol operated out of temporary offices on Lafayette Street in London. The West Jefferson facility is now 5,400 square feet, up from 3,600 square feet.

A windowed community room occupies some of the new square footage. In addition to providing post personnel with a place to meet, the room is available for use by the public.

“There’s a trend in the Patrol toward adding community rooms. It’s just another service we can provide to the community,” said Lt. Kenneth Ward, post commander.

A roomier public lobby and a more secure entryway benefit not only visitors to the post, but also the radio dispatchers. Now, visitors can be served from a window in the breezeway, or the dispatcher can buzz them into the lobby to be served at an indoor window. The set-up gives dispatchers more security, as do six new security cameras installed inside and outside the building.

“I’ve never felt threatened before, but you hear stories. It’s always in the back of your mind. I feel secure here,” said Kay Routte, a dispatcher at the West Jefferson post for the last seven years.

By reconfiguring the interior space, the post gained a breath testing room for people suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The room is tiled, includes a bathroom and is located adjacent to the post garage.

The dispatcher’s room is at least twice its original size, allowing for more work space and less crowded working conditions, said Fay Wedlund, a traveling dispatcher. The building’s new interior also features new public rest rooms and reconfigured space for the post commander’s office, a duty room, and an evidence room.

The last renovation to the 34-year-old building came in the 1990s when the flat roof was replaced with a pitched roof. The facility was due for an update, said several law enforcement personnel who attended an open house on Nov. 6.

“They have a very efficient space now,” said West Jefferson area resident Richard N. Rucker, executive director for Ohio’s Division of Emergency Medical Services and a past commander of the West Jefferson Highway Patrol Post (1984-86).

State Rep. Chris Widener presented the post with a congratulatory resolution and praised the facility’s staff for working well with other facets of Madison County’s law enforcement and emergency response teams.

Col. Richard H. Collins, superintendent of the Ohio Highway Patrol, stated, “With the recently completed construction, the officers and professional staff assigned here have at their disposal the most up-to-date facilities and equipment to help them best serve the citizens of Madison County.”

Collins added that the Nov. 6 ribbon-cutting was bittersweet as the date marked the seventh anniversary of the death of Trooper Frank Vasquez, a member of the West Jefferson post who was killed while on duty in 2001.

The West Jefferson facility employs 29 men and women and is one of 55 Highway Patrol posts in Ohio. The Ohio Highway Patrol is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

For more information about the West Jefferson post, including use of the new community room, call 614-879-7626.

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