- Associated Press - Sunday, November 1, 2015

MOUNT ZION, Ill. (AP) - Adam Skundberg and other officers laugh when they think of how things used to be in the Mount Zion Police Department offices.

Even with crammed offices that had to be shared with fellow officers, as well as a lone interview room and a lone restroom to be used by all staff; Skundberg, the Mount Zion police chief, said they never complained because they never knew what things could be instead.

After several years of renovations, Skundberg and his staff have learned how much better things can be.

Renovations of the police department offices are nearing completion. The decades-old building at 400 W. Main St. has been a bank, a grocery store, a library and, until four years ago, the shared space of the department and village operations.

Village Administrator Julie Miller said that as the village grew, the shared space became a restriction on both parties.



So when village operations moved into a new, 28,000-square-foot facility at the end of East Village Parkway nearly four years ago, it came time to fully commit to making the old building something special.

The remodeling includes additional office space, interview rooms, training room and an expanded lobby.

As he walks through the facility, Skundberg is aware how each of the new spaces has made things more convenient for his office. The lobby is more open and welcoming, while the new interview rooms makes it easier for officers than in the past.

“Before, we would sometimes have to put a person in any empty office we had and set up the tripod and interviewing equipment before we could talk to them,” Skundberg said. “Now it’s all set up and ready to go right away.”

The overall space of the facility is 7,600 square feet, 60 percent larger than before the remodeling. The overall cost of the remodeling was $74,789, which Miller said was budgeted over a two-year span.

Some employees, such as Sue Zerfowski, are blunt when they think about how things are compared to the past.

“You remember being what it was like before with people being elbow-to-elbow because it was so cramped,” said Zerfowski, the dispatch and record clerk.

While he has heard from some residents who were curious as to why the village chose to remodel the building rather than build a new place for the police department, Skundberg points to the location of the department on Main Street and its proximity to the schools as the perks to staying in the same location.

“It’s the perfect location here,” he said. “When school is getting out, we’re off the busiest stretch of road in the village.”

Expansion also opens up the possibility for future growth in the 10-person department, as Miller said it was impossible to increase the department’s staff in the previously small space.

As the village continues to grow, Skundberg said additional personnel may be needed. And the building could be further remodeled vertically or horizontally if necessary, he said.

But for now, Skundberg said he and his officers are happy to have a bit more space in which to do their work.

“We really think we have a good thing right now,” he said. “We really think this will help benefit the entire community.”

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Source: The (Decatur) Herald & Review, https://bit.ly/1OTOU9w

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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