Sheriff’s office plans to lease patrol office space at former Guilford Primary School

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — In an effort to alleviate cramped conditions at the current facility, the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department is looking to lease space at the former Guilford Primary School — which more recently was the home of the SAD 4 administrative office suite — to house its patrol division. The county commissioners authorized the sheriff’s office to immediately enter into a temporary lease agreement with the building owner Dave Clark during a March 6 meeting.

“The sheriff’s department has had issues with space and privacy,” Commissioners Chair James White said. “We have looked at other spaces to rent while we look at building a new building.”

The current sheriff’s office on Court Street in Dover-Foxcroft was constructed in the 1880s as part of the old county jail, designed during an era when the sheriff was expected to live on-site.

According to an information sheet prepared by County Manager Tom Lizotte, the two-story structure is dysfunctional as office space for a law enforcement agency, with small rooms, narrow hallways and a steep staircase. The building lacks private interview areas, storage space or room for information technology and telecommunications, and is non-compliant with modern building codes.

A ballot question in 2015 asked Piscataquis County residents to approve a $610,000 bond financing package to fund the construction of new 3,000 square-foot office building on the county campus at the corner of East Main and School streets. The question was turned down by 109 votes but the need for new office remains for the sheriff’s department.

“It’s centrally located and it will fill our needs in the interim,” White said, as county officials are considering bringing forward a new bond referendum — possibly in November 2019.

“Our plan is to put patrol up there, we already have one deputy working out of the bunker in Milo,” Chief Deputy Robert Young, who is seeking election as sheriff to succeed the retiring John Goggin later this year, said. “It’s that front portion of the superintendent’s office.”

The monthly cost would be $1,200 with heat and utilities included. “We do have to provide our own internet connection because it has to be a secure connection,” Young said.

The patrol and investigation divisions of the sheriff’s department would move from Dover-Foxcroft to Guilford, including the lieutenant, sergeant and three deputies. A fourth deputy, who patrols the Milo/Brownville area, would continue to work out of the Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency emergency operations center on Sargent Hill Drive in Milo.

Goggin, Young and the department’s clerk specialist would continue to work out of the Dover-Foxcroft office, attached to the jail and dispatch center. Administration of all department operations would remain at the current location.

“The goal is to keep the guys on the road more and give them a better place to work,” Young said.

“There’s no confidentiality for anyone who wants to come in off the street to talk to a specific officer,” Goggin said. “We just don’t have any privacy whatsoever, it’s got to be disturbing and upsetting for anyone who comes in off the street.”

“This can renewed on an annual basis,” Lizotte said, with standard 60-day notices for renewal and a 90-day notice if not seeking to renew. He said a capital account with approximately $23,000 could fund the lease for 2018 and 2019 expenses would be built into that year’s budget.

“I am very proud of our sheriff’s department, they are a professional organization but they don’t have a professional work space,” Lizotte said.

Goggin said he does have some mixed feelings about the move “but it just got to the point where we have to do something.”

“The ideal situation is to build a new building over there,” he added. “I see it, and Bob sees it, as a temporary fix. Is this the ideal thing no, but it’s better than what we have today.”

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