HEARNE, TX — For the past year, the people of Hearne have watched the formation of a 27,000 square foot public safety center, which will house both the city’s police department and volunteer fire department, as well as council chambers and the municipal court.
Construction began in January of 2020, after a bond for the $8.3 million dollar project was voted into action during the summer of 2019. The former Hearne police station was demolished in order to make way for the new building, and city manager John Naron said he anticipates costs will not exceed the original budget drawn.
"It’s been really smooth," Naron stated. "We’ve had a few delays due to COVID-19; delayed parts and things like that. But, overall it’s been really smooth. We had expected to finish in December [of 2020], but likely we’re going to be through in February, with a realistic move in date of March.”
Naron and his colleagues believe this much larger building will provide the police and fire departments with basic necessities the agencies did not have access to formerly. For example, firefighters have filled their current truck bay to capacity with equipment.
"In both of the buildings we had a lot of structural problems, and a lot of compliance issues,” Naron noted.
Police officers stationed at the previous, smaller headquarters were forced to store case evidence in a shed-like outdoor structure, and dealt with wild animals such as opossums entering holes in their office spaces.
"It was a small building," said Miguel Vasquez, assistant chief for the Hearne Police Department. "It didn’t have a lot of the commodities that newer buildings do have. We didn’t have the space to be able to do interviews and training; things like that.”
Firefighters continue to use their tightly packed station at the moment, and police officers are working out of a temporary office space in downtown Hearne’s retail district. Vasquez said he happily anticipates the big move coming up.
“It’s a partnership with the community," the assistant chief commented. "Not only does it belong to the police department or the city of Hearne, but it belongs to the citizens of Hearne.”