By Laura Precourt – [email protected]

 and Samuel Butterfass –[email protected]

The first project of many planned for the city of St. Joseph has been completed. This past Monday, the new St. Joseph Government Center officially opened its doors.

With their new space on 25 College Avenue, local government officials now have modernized office spaces.

JULIA ECKART • [email protected] Chief of Police, Joel Klein, settles into his office at the St. Joseph gov. center.

Costing a total $4.8 million, the Center offers a variety of benefits to the community of St. Joseph. The new space houses departments including administration, community development, fire, police and public works.

Administrator Judy Weyrens said there is a dramatic difference between the old government center and the newly updated building.

The old space was 8,000 square feet. The two-floor building had a council chamber downstairs while members of the administration and the police department shared one large room upstairs. This layout created a lack of privacy between each department.

The new government center, just under 20,000 square feet, has a variety of new rooms creating more space between departments. Compared to the one room office that the departments all shared in the old building, there are now separate offices for each group as well as a police finger printing station.

In addition, a 200-person capacity conference room has been added. There are new multipurpose rooms and vehicle spaces as well.

There have also been updates in technology, including smart boards that have been added to the council rooms. The technological additions to the council chamber have led to more efficiency during meetings.

New garage space also allows for Gold Cross ambulances to be stationed at the facility. Having the ambulances stationed at the center will result in faster local response and aid in medical emergencies.

St. Joseph Mayor Rick Schultz shared his perspective on the government center. He expressed his contentment to finally have an office to himself. Before, he shared a room with many employees. At the new space, he is able to conduct business privately.

“Honestly, I enjoy the entire building. I like the fact there is a mayor’s office. In the past, there was no place for a mayor to conduct business or host confidential, private conversations with business, community leaders or anyone,” Shultz said via email. “This area went from an old, poorly renovated, inadequate space to a state of the art, fully functional, very operational space.”

The city purchased the land for the government center along with Colts Academy and 15 more acres two years ago for $2.5 million. They plan to remodel and upgrade Colts Academy to serve as a community and youth activity center.

All the government and community facilities will be housed in the center of town in a campus type setting and will eventually be the cornerstone for expanded activities, services and meeting space for the community,” Schultz said.