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Ahoskie breaks ground on new police station

AHOSKIE – It was a happy occasion years in the making.

Tuesday afternoon the town of Ahoskie officially broke ground on a new Ahoskie Police Department. The facility will be located on West Main Street next to the old Ahoskie High School Bandroom.

Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh welcomed those in attendance to “this joyous occasion.” The chief expressed special appreciation to Major Jimmy Asbell, Mayor Linda Blackburn, the members of the Ahoskie Town Council and Town Manager Tony Hammond.

“I want to thank all of you for allowing this project to come to fruition,” Fitzhugh said. “We appreciate seeing this wanted and needed project become a reality.”

Chief Fitzhugh also expressed appreciation to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development division as well as the Wooten Company and the Bassett Construction Company.

Mayor Blackburn said she appreciated being afforded the opportunity to speak during the groundbreaking, but stressed that much of the work for the police department had been done before she was elected.

“When I was first elected, the need for the police department was one of the first things I heard from Councilman (Ronald) Gatling,” she said.

“This has been a long time coming and has been a lot of work,” she continued. “One of the things I want to know right away is when will it be completed.”

The mayor said she was pleased to see the new structure starting and was happy for the town’s police officers who would be using it.

“I can’t think of a more wonderful thing to happen for the Ahoskie Police Department,” she said. “Thank you, we appreciate you and we feel safe because of you. You guys are terrific.”

Councilman O.S. “Buck” Suitor said he was also pleased to see the building beginning.

“This is a great day for the town of Ahoskie,” he said. “I’m pleased to be a part of it. Thank you (APD) for all you do.”

Councilman Gatling said he remembered the initial meeting between then Police Chief Steve Hoggard, Fire Chief Ken Dilday, Councilman Suitor and himself discussing the need for a new fire and police station.

Gatling said there were many obstacles over the course of the last several years, but said the Ahoskie Town Council didn’t give up.

“As a town, we have had a vision of projects including the wastewater treatment plant, the fire department, police department and recreation,” he said. “We are doing all of those things. We are moving forward.”

The town also heard from those who are literally making the project come to pass – the Wooten Company and Bassett Construction.

Russell Pearlman of the Wooten Company said there had now been more than 200 projects in Ahoskie his company had been a part of and said he was happy to be part of making the Ahoskie Police Department a reality.

“The town needed it,” he said. “The current facility is not keeping pace. We were pleased to put together this facility to help benefit the police who work here and the citizens who come into the facility.”

John Bassett said the projected completion date was June 18.

“Thank you very much,” he said. “We appreciate the opportunity. We are flattered to work with the town of Ahoskie.”

Dignitaries from throughout Hertford County and the region were also on hand to congratulate the town and its police officers.

Representative Annie W. Mobley (D-5th) said she wanted to reminisce about the past and talked about her first venture into the current offices of the APD. She said times have changed drastically.

“The Ahoskie Police Department, I believe, is the largest in the history of Ahoskie,” she said. “I want to commend the chief and the town council for supporting law enforcement.”

She also indicated her pleasure at being a part of the event.

“I can’t say anything to show you how pleased I am to be part of this occasion,” she said.

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan also congratulated the town on the groundbreaking.

“It’s great to see this thing coming up,” Vaughan said. “Chief, congratulations on this new facility.”

Judicial District 6B Attorney Valerie Mitchell-Asbell said she was proud of the new facility and the law enforcement officers who would be using it.

“I’m proud of the Ahoskie Police Department,” she said. “I’m proud of Chief Fitzhugh and I’m proud of my husband (Maj. Asbell). I think we often don’t understand the importance of the police department until we need them and they are there.”

Dr. Michael G. Basham, Superintendent of Hertford County Schools, also stressed his gratitude for the Ahoskie Police Department.

“Being a new resident of the town of Ahoskie, I am thankful for the Ahoskie Police Department and the work they do,” Dr. Basham said. “Congratulations, Chief Fitzhugh and the Ahoskie Town Council for this bold and necessary project.”

Jerry Castelloe also offered the town congratulations on behalf of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce.

After the ceremony, Chief Fitzhugh, Mayor Blackburn, members of the Ahoskie Town Council and others participated in a ceremonial breaking of ground.

The new Ahoskie Police Department will be built at an estimated cost of $1.5 million including a total construction cost of $1.269 million. It has already been approved by unanimous vote of the Ahoskie Town Council. The town has acquired a loan from the USDA Office of Rural Development to finance the project.