Improvements On The Way To Bay St. Louis Police, Fire Station

Work crews are constructing what will become a new metal roof over the entire public safety complex.

The building used to be the Valena C. Jones School for black students. Built in the mid '40s, it was converted into the city's public safety complex sometime after desegregation.

Age has taken its toll on the facility. The roof leaks and on the western end of the building, and you can find plate size holes in the ceiling.

"The city has worked tirelessly over the years to try to repair it and fix it up, and now they're doing a major renovation and it all going," Bay St. Louis Assistant Fire Chief Gary Maurice said. "Once they get the roof on, they can get inside and start working from one end to another to get everything straightened out."

Old classrooms on the western end of the building will be renovated and become office space for the Police Department's Investigation unit. The records department will also get more space. Right now detectives and record keepers work in cramped quarters.

"We're a growing department. We need the room. We're a little cluttered up in there right now," Police Chief Frank McNeil said.

The department's dispatch center and crime prevention unit will expand, and a new conference room will be added.

"One of the good reasons, morale for the people who work in it, as well as the people in the community," Maurice said. "They like the building. The building is a part of their community, and they're glad to see it being renovated. If you can beautify the community, the community itself will improve around it."

The renovation work is being done in phases. The first phase is expected to be finished within four months and will cost the city around $80,000.

By Al Showers