Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ribbon Cut for New Stand-Alone Nassau County Sheriff's Office

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ribbon Cut for New Stand-Alone Nassau County Sheriff's Office

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan

Mary Mercer used to greet Nassau County Sheriff's Office visitors through a glass security window set in a concrete wall in the 43-year-old former county jail's cramped lobby.

Now Sheriff Bill Leeper's executive assistant and records director has a spacious office in the new 37,000-square-foot Sheriff's Office headquarters, joining 238 deputies and staff after the ribbon was cut Monday to officially open it off William Burgess Boulevard.

The new facility has separate offices for each division instead of inside old moldy trailers parked next to the former jail, Mercer said. She laughs when she remembers they couldn't use the microwave if the photocopier was on because of inadequate wiring.

"We don't have to put our paperwork in plastic and carry an umbrella to go from building to building when it's raining. It is awesome," Mercer said. "... It makes you want to cry to know what our deputies and all of our employees went through. But now they are home and it is like one big family."

Sgt. Tim Cooper remembers their criminal investigation division's former office in a double-wide trailer, with leaking ceilings and floppy wall dividers separating desks.

"We have broken it up into the areas we now work in so criminal investigations has its own area, whereas we used to all be combined," Cooper said. "... Part of the storage of evidence was in the old jail, some of the storage actually in old inmate housing. So this is a big step up from where we came from."

Leeper and Nassau County commissioners cut the ribbon Monday at 77151 Citizens Circle as State Attorney Melissa Nelson and other officials watched, proclaiming the facility "Open for business." It becomes the first stand-alone sheriff's office in Nassau County history, built across from the 911 dispatch center, jail and courthouse off Florida A1A and replacing a 43-year-old former jail and 10 trailers just to the east.

Previous sheriffs had suggested a new headquarters for years, including earlier ideas of an old school and a 50,000-square-foot facility. …

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