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Sheriffs Office to open Salem Rd. annex
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The Newton County Sheriff's Office will soon have a presence on the west side of the county with an annex substation.

On Tuesday, the Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved for the NCSO to enter into a five-year lease agreement with Health Club L.L.C for the property at 3665-C Salem Road. The new annex will be located in the Kroger shopping plaza at the intersection of Salem and Kirkland Roads.

The projected total expenses for the five-year-lease and the utilities at the building is about $42,000.

Sheriff Ezell Brown presented the board with the project, which he said has been in the works for more than two years. He said the new facility will primarily be a place where citizens can obtain accident and incident reports and a place where citizens can make reports.

"There are multiple advantages to having this station on the western side of town," Brown said. "We receive more than 80 percent of our call volume from the western side of the community. It will create a physical presence for the citizens there and also give the citizens the opportunity to report crime and create a shorter response time to that particular area."

Brown said the funds will come from the local and federal seized funds account. He said both accounts maintain a reserve of $55,000. The local fund balance on Sept. 18 was $57,085.67 and the federal fund balance on Sept. 18 was $68,865.86 with pending seizure payments of $20,372.40 giving the federal fund a total of $89,238.26.

"We have funds available from drug funds," Brown said. "These funds are built by our arrests and drug activity from criminals in the area. I think it will be a good opportunity to put the proceeds that we have received from criminals to good use and put it back into the community."

Brown said the property owner was willing to negotiate the total cost. The estimated cost of utilities for the building annually is $6,000.

According to the lease agreement, the initial term lease started Oct. 1 and will continue until terminated on Dec. 31. After that date, the lease will automatically renew for up to four one-year terms from 2013 to 2017 and one eight-month term from Jan. 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2017.

There will be no payments due for October or November this year, but an initial rent of $1,950 will be due on Dec. 1. The rent at the property will gradually increase to $2,100 per month at the end of the lease from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2017.

Brown said the new annex is a win-win for the citizens and for Newton County as a whole. In a phone interview Thursday, he said he hopes to have the annex open by the end of the year.

"There are some slight modifications that we will have to do. We're hoping to have the modifications completed in 30 days and then have it open up there shortly after," Brown said.

Brown said he will transfer some of his staff from the NCSO to the new location. He said he has not yet determined how many deputies will be at the annex.

"It's going to be more of an eight-hour operation for administrative staff," Brown said. We'll operate normal business hours as it stands right now. In months coming or years coming, if there is a need to have an administrative staff there after hours then we will look at perhaps putting someone there part-time. However, the officers will still be working out of that area."