OSP staff 'elated' at new building's progress

By Kelly Ducote / The Observer December 30, 2013 12:00 pm

Years of working shoulder-to-shoulder and waiting in line to use computers will soon end for La Grande-based Oregon State Police employees.

The new facility for La Grande-based Oregon State Police should be completed by mid-February 2014. Photo by Phil Bullock.
The new facility for La Grande-based Oregon State Police should be completed by mid-February 2014. Photo by Phil Bullock.

The La Grande Area Command staff will hopefully be moved into a brand new building in the La Grande Business Park by mid-February.

Construction on the 10,200-square foot building began in August. Since then, the excitement among staff has been building.

“Working conditions have definitely been tight,” said Sr. Trooper Marcus McDowell. “The thing most the patrol guys are looking forward to is just additional workspace.”

There have been occasions when troopers come in from a traffic crash needing to work on the report but no computers are open. That kind of inefficiency, 
McDowell said, can slow them down.

 La Grande for seven years, said he is also excited about the interview room in the new facility. Troopers currently have to conduct interviews at the Union County Law Enforcement Building.

“I think that’s going to be a huge bonus for interviewing suspects and victims,”  McDowell said. “It’ll be nice to keep things in house.”

For Lt. Gordon Larson, the 
La Grande area commander, the new facility is just bringing the La Grande staff up to speed with the modern world and its amenities.

“I would call it a standard office,” he said. “Everything we’re getting is current best practice.”

Upgrades include a small kitchen and break room, a large conference room and private offices for detectives and supervisors.

Larson said the new facility is about triple the square feet of their current location, in offices shared by the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Transportation. When OSP conducts training or needs space for a large meeting, it usually has to go elsewhere for it. The new conference room will provide the OSP “a lot of latitude” in terms of use, Larson said.

The new building is estimated to cost $2.4 million, though OSP will be leasing it. OSP does not have capital money to build its own structures, said Randy Hinrichson, OSP facilities project manager. 

In addition to the office space, the second floor has plenty of storage space for OSP.

“We’ve got a little room for expansion,” Larson said.

Additionally, the facility has a garage where staff members will be able to do maintenance on vehicles. A standalone generator will also be housed at the facility.

“We’ll basically be able to run an emergency operation center,” Larson said.

Sharon Garritson, the office specialist for OSP in La Grande, can’t wait to get moved into the new building, located at 3004 Blue Mountain Drive.

“It’s just such a blessing. Even the guys that have retired are excited to see this come to fruition,” said Garritson, who has worked for OSP in La Grande for just under six years. 

Garritson said it’s been difficult to work in their current location since she’s been there.

“They outgrew the facility a long time ago. We just make do,” she said.

The office specialist said she is happy they will be getting a break room and the troopers will have lockers, showers and bathrooms that don’t have to be shared with the public. Restrooms for the OSP employees are shared by DMV and ODOT employees. They are also the public restrooms. Troopers have no space to change clothes or shower.

“We don’t have any of those amenities now,” she said. “We don’t have room to store anything.”

And Garritson’s working space will improve, too. A large front counter will sit behind bulletproof glass at the building’s main entrance — a far cry from her little desk shared at times with a detective.

“We’re just elated beyond belief. We’re anxious to get in there,” Garritson said.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.