By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: July 12, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – Regular commuters and infrequent travelers along U.S. Route 460 and U.S. Route 1 would be hard-pressed to miss the growth in and around Northeastern Dinwiddie County and, with that growth comes the need to ensure services like public safety have adequate support in the county’s more densely populated area.
In an interview, Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill confirmed the county’s hope to open a precinct of the Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office sometime this month inside a space provided by Elite Contracting Group at their new headquarters along Cox Road at the former site of Rohoic Elementary School, noting they are in the midst of working out the contract to lease and utilize that space.
Before that site was turned over to Elite Contracting following the closure of the elementary school years earlier, the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office did operate a satellite office at the facility, helping to augment their coverage in the area and provide support to their patrol and response efforts in the county’s northeastern reaches.
After Elite Contracting Group assumed control of the property as part of their plans to build their new corporate headquarters, Massengill said the conversation about finding a way to continue that coverage in the area was had on several occasions between Sheriff D.T. Adams and himself. Thanks to the company, that coverage will resume thanks to Elite Contracting Group as they offered a space within their building for the sheriff’s department to use.
“Given the sheer size of Dinwiddie, we have tremendously improved our physical environment with the [Dinwiddie County] Public Safety Building, we are still further away from where a majority of our calls for service are,” Massengill said, who said the reestablished precinct will help deputies by reducing the number of trips a deputy who may be working in the area has to make back to the public safety building, thus removing them from the northern end of the county where they may be patrolling.
“Being able to do that in the northern end puts you where you need to be,” Massengill remarked. “It helps us patrol more frequently in areas where we may have issues. Putting that asset in the community where we have the highest call volume is what we are able to accomplish now.”
As part of the new precinct, funding was included in the current-year budget to cover staffing for the office at the request of Sheriff Adams. When talking about the completion of the public safety building’s first full year of operations, the sheriff also discussed the important role this new office will play in his department’s operations and their public safety efforts.
“It is going to be a great asset to the citizens of Dinwiddie County, especially on the north end,” he said. “If citizens there need a service, like fingerprinting, they won’t need to drive all the way down to Dinwiddie.”
Adams continued, “This is going to keep deputies in that area, so if they need to interview someone near a neighborhood, use the restroom, or make a telephone call, they can go there. That is the end of the county where we get most of our calls, which is natural because it’s the most populated,” adding that previous attempts to develop a precinct in the area didn’t work out the way he would have liked them to, but he was very optimistic about this precinct’s future.
“This is one is going to work out because [Elite Contracting Group] Scott Wray is giving us the space and Dinwiddie is giving me someone to man it so I am really excited about this,”
The support from Elite Contracting Group in this way, helping the sheriff’s office to reestablish a needed public safety asset wasn’t lost on either Adams or Massengill.
“It has been humbling to see,” the sheriff shared. “I can’t talk enough about Elite Contracting Group and all they have done for Dinwiddie County, not only for my office but for baseball, football, and so much more here in Dinwiddie. [Scott Wray] was raised here and believes in giving back to the community and that is a blessing because you don’t see that very much these days.”
“It was really that philanthropic mindset of Elite Contracting Group to say, ‘Hey, we are building this new asset and we knew this was here before. We don’t have to do this but we would like to give back to the community and the sheriff,’” Massengill said. “We are so fortunate to have such a community-minded corporate business located on that site now that thought about that need in the community, as well as to offer that to the sheriff, so the county is proud of that relationship and what is happening there at that location.”
With the new sheriff’s office precinct coming later this month, according to county leaders, developing the area’s public safety assets continues to be a priority of the county as the likes of Walmart, Amazon, and ALDI find economic success in Northeastern Dinwiddie, while other businesses, like Browder’s Towing and other ventures set up shop in the area. With that growth comes the need to be cognizant of patterns and needs, one of which being a fire station in the area.
According to the county’s decade-long capital improvement plan, leaders have identified the 2023 fiscal year as the time they will look to fund a new “airport area fire station,” at a cost of $4.6 million. With concerns about response time from some residents and the continued growth of large distribution center buildings, which present unique fire fighting and emergency response challenges, as displayed during a Spring 2018 fire at the Amazon fulfillment center, some believe these elements make a case for why a station is needed along U.S. Route 460, which would provide easy access many businesses and residents in and around the surrounding corridors.
When asked how this precinct will play in the county’s efforts at further expanding public safety assets in the northern end of the county, Massengill explained the county will be undergoing a full fire and EMS operations study during this fiscal year, which aims to take a broad look at the county’s needs to shape the department’s direction going forward into the next decade or further.
“It is in the CIP to look a fire station at the airport and this is where the study is important,” he said. “This study and plan will help us look at how we are growing, what the organizational structure looks like now and in the future, what our response times need to be, where are our challenges and opportunities, etc. What we do over the next four years is probably going to define Dinwiddie County over the next 20 years.”
Regarding the new precinct, an exact date for its opening wasn’t available but, it is expected to open sometime this month.