ELIZABETHTOWN — Law enforcement officers, elected officials and other dignitaries from throughout the region converged on the new Bladen County Law Enforcement Center on Friday morning for a special dedication. The event also featured the unveiling and dedication of the Fallen Officer Monument in front of the facility.
That monument was a special project for Sheriff Jim McVicker and the Bladen County Law Enforcement Officers’ Association.
“When construction of the Bladen County Law Enforcement Center began, Sheriff McVicker offered the opportunity for the Association to erect a monument in the remembrance of these brave fallen officers,” said Chaplain Barry Pait. “The Association’s members embraced this solemn duty and privilege …”
Those memorialized included Roy F. Fores, Bladenboro PD; Marvin J. Bell, Elizabethtown PD; Brian Ramsey, Bladenboro PD; James B. Collins, Sheriff’s Office; and Dewayne C. Hester, Sheriff’s Office.
“Let us never forget our fallen brothers,” Pait added. “Let us never forget what they lived for, what they died for and who they had to leave behind.”
Robert Hester, who was on the county’s Board of Commissioners when the land for the Center was purchased more than three decades ago, served as the master of ceremonies for the dedication.
“A facility like this was probably needed even back then,” he said. “Somehow they managed to put it off until now.”
The project for the new facility began in 2013 when the county selected Moseley Architects to design the 220-bed Center. W.M. Jordan/Bordeaux Joint Venture was selected as the construction manager in 2015 and, in 2016, construction officially began. The facility is 62,333 square feet with space officially for 250 beds among six pods — five individual pods and one dormitory pod. The final cost of the project came in at $16,615,275.
It is considered to be one of the highest-tech detention facilities there is.
The new Center will replace a county jail built in 1965 and a Sheriff’s Office in use since 1947. Inmates are expected to be moved into the new facility later this month.
Sheriff McVicker spent much of his time before the crowd thanking those who worked to make the facility possible — including past and present county commissioners.
“These people are responsible for this facility,” he said. He added that County Manager Greg Martin and Capt. Jeff Singletary “watched every penny being spent here.”
County Chairman Charles Ray Peterson told the crowd the new facility was “sorely needed.”
“It’s always hard to spend $19 or $20 million of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “But I appreciate the support of the public.”
McVicker spent several moments presenting an official Bible to each of the past and present commissioners. The specially engraved Bibles were made possible by Galleed Baptist Church in Bladenboro and Pastor Warren Hill.
One of the final speakers of the ceremony was resident Superior Court Judge Douglas B. Sasser, who helped get the ball rolling for a new detention center a couple of years ago.
“The county commissioners could have taken the cheapest way out, but instead created a facility for the incarceration of inmates and offices for the Sheriff’s Office that will meet the needs of this county for many years to come,” he said.
After the hour-long ceremony, visitors were invited to enjoy a lunch provided by Center Road Baptist Church in Bladenboro, then take a tour of the Law Enforcement Center.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.