- Associated Press - Sunday, June 29, 2014

OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) - Work is ahead of schedule on a new headquarters building for the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“We are hoping to be in there by Christmas and fully operational by early 2015,” said St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz.

The Daily World reported (http://bit.ly/TmfFKx) the Sheriff’s Office bought the former Acadiana Prep School site near the intersection of U.S. Highway 190 and Interstate 49 last year.

The former school is being reconfigured into a 28,000-square-foot office complex that will centralize the department’s operations.

“It will be a one-stop shop,” said Guidroz, who said he plans to move his administrative office, detectives division, narcotic division, training academy, patrol division and search and rescue operations into the building.

The operations are scattered now throughout Opelousas and St. Landry Parish. “We have operations now on Airport Road, North and South Market streets, on West Landry Street and in the parish. It is an expense and a hassle,” Guidroz said.

He said he is also negotiating to acquire property next to the 5-acre former school site.

“I plan to use that to house nonviolent offenders who need to appear in court the next day,” Guidroz said.

This will be the third time Guidroz has tried to consolidate the department’s operations.

He tried to buy the former Service Builders location north of Opelousas a couple of years ago. He sought federal funds for that project, but it fell through.

“The federal government made demands we couldn’t live with, including a requirement we keep $800,000 in escrow. We can’t afford that. We have immediate needs that have to be addressed,” Guidroz said.

In late 2010, Guidroz tried to buy the former Courvelle Dealership lot in Opelousas. When members of the nearby Holy Ghost Catholic Church objected, the Opelousas Board of Aldermen would not rezone that section of North Main Street to permit the project.

Guidroz said the new location will be better and should also cost about $10 million less than his previous plans.

Although the former Acadiana Prep building needed much work, he said the location is excellent, allowing quick access to both the parish’s major highways.

“We have to address our needs for the future. The next sheriff will have to have 21st century equipment and enough space,” Guidroz said. “We are now so crammed and disconnected, it makes our job harder.”

He said the current sheriff’s headquarters, built in 1980, is no longer adequate.

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Information from: The Daily World, http://www.dailyworld.com

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