A long-awaited groundbreaking

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY 
Dirt flies from shovels at the Marshalltown Police Department and Fire Department headquarters groundbreaking Tuesday in the 900 block of South Second Street. Making remarks were Mayor Jim Lowrance, Chief of Police Michael Tupper, Fire Chief David Rierson, and Councilor-At-Large Bill Martin.

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Dirt flies from shovels at the Marshalltown Police Department and Fire Department headquarters groundbreaking Tuesday in the 900 block of South Second Street. Making remarks were Mayor Jim Lowrance, Chief of Police Michael Tupper, Fire Chief David Rierson, and Councilor-At-Large Bill Martin.

Framed by a Marshalltown Police SUV and a large fire truck. local officials celebrated the groundbreaking of the new joint police and fire department headquarters Tuesday in the 900 block of South Second Street.

Emcee and Mayor Jim Lowrance thanked the late Bob Schubert, Marshalltown residents who voted to fund the facility in a public referendum last year, as well as police, fire, and E-911 staff.

Schubert, who died in March, served the working-class dominated first ward 30 years. He

was cited by Lowrance several times for his devotion to public safety.

“In 2013, Bob received permission from his wife to run for office on more time so he could work to provide Marshalltown’s police and fire departments a facility they could be proud of,” Lowrance said.

The state-of-the art facility has a not to exceed cost of $17.5 million, the amount approved by voters.

However, the city council and city staff have been working with contractors and the construction manager as bids have come in to keep costs as low as possible.

The stie has been graded and concrete will be installed in the near future.

Lowrance was joined by Chief of Police Michael Tupper, Fire Chief David Rierson and Councilor-At-Large Bill Martin, who all thanked Marshalltown residents who supported the project with a dramatic “yes” vote of

2,273 to 1,215. in August, 2016.

Yes votes equaled 65.17 percent to 34.83 percent no.

Critically, the affirmative votes easily exceeded the 60 percent threshold required by Iowa law for passage.

Nearly 15 months after a disappointing defeat for a new police-only facility slated for the Old Crosby Pool site on South Sixth Street, community forces rebounded.

Given a lot of credit for the turn of events was a second 15-member Citizens Advisory Committee chaired by local attorney Paul Peglow of Peglow, O’Hare and See.

“This groundbreaking was made possible only by the extensive public interest and support,” said Martin. “As a city councilor, I welcome this day.”

Lowrance, Tupper, Rierson and Martin also touched on the improved efficiencies the joint facility will provide.

“It will provide accessibility and safety for the public, ample parking, and meeting and training space in its centralized location,” said Martin. “It will be a boon to recruitment and retention for the police and fire department.

Rierson said the facility, once constructed will have an economic development impact as well.

“We (fire department) will be hosting training programs for other departments in the state,” he said. “Those sessions will benefit area restaurants and hoteliers.”

Tupper said he was thrilled MPD staff, including E-911 staff would have a professional facility to do their jobs.

Discussions on remodeling the present police building at 22 N. Center or constructing new headquarters began approximately 11 years ago.

Those efforts would foreshadow the need later for a cost-effective, centrally-located joint facility.

The MPD moved into their current facility — the former Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. building — with a force of 40 in 1982.

Over the years, staffing increased to present day 60, and lack of room became a major liability.

Tupper, whose first day on the job was Oct. 31, 2011, was candid during both campaigns in citing numerous deficiencies at the 22 N. Center St. facility ranging from the lack of a space for private personnel records to an inadequate evidence collection room to lack of segregated space for crime victims and suspects.

“I am thrilled to stand before you today and thank all who contributed so police and fire professionals can do their job protecting Marshalltown residents,” Tupper said.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com