The Paxton Police Department soon will have a new home that triples the space at its current location at downtown's City Hall.
The new site is remodeled office and showroom space at the former Birkey's Farm Store building along State Route 45 on Paxton's north edge.
The city of Paxton purchased the vacant farm implement dealer building and approximately seven acres of surrounding land for $240,000 in February 2004.
Paxton's street and alley department was first to take advantage of the new facilities. All the department's tools, equipment and vehicles occupy the service and repair portion of the former Case/IH dealership.
Police Chief Ken Mutchmore said he realized about a year ago that "we were out of space." He pitched the idea of moving the police department to then-mayor Jim Kingston, who agreed.
Mutchmore said the project has been a work in progress for more than a year. However, work has moved along without the feasibility studies, architect fees or large-scale contractors one usually associates with municipal building projects.
"Since the city already owned the property, I thought why not utilize it, rather than buy or build something else," Mutchmore said. "It's taxpayer money and we should do what we can to save money."
Mutchmore is justifiably proud of the new facility's floor plan, a plan he designed with Street Superintendent Randy Swan. "I've been at this over 35 years and it is planned pretty well," he said.
In the new space, Paxton's police officers now have features that other police departments might take for granted.
For example, officers now will have two private interview rooms, separated by the file room and offering one-way mirrors for use by victims or other observers.
Mutchmore said in their current cramped quarters, suspect interviews were sometimes conducted in the upstairs council chambers.
Mutchmore expects the department will move in "any day now." His main concern is having telephone service.
The move will give Mutchmore a chance to enjoy the new quarters for a while before he retires from the Paxton police force on May 12. He has been with the department for more than 35 years and has served as chief for eight years.
Randy Wolfe, chairman of Paxton City Council's police committee, has announced Robert Bane as their candidate to be the next police chief. Bane currently holds the rank of captain with the department.