Feb. 23—Delmont's police officers expected to get their feet wet in terms of law enforcement experience when they joined the borough's police department.
They probably didn't expect to literally get their feet wet, though.
"That's a problem we've been dealing with for probably the last five years," police Chief T.J. Klobucar said of the water that occasionally has come up through the floor of the borough building, which will mark its 123rd birthday this year.
Klobucar said he's been thinking "for years about trying to find a place to have some more room."
The Delmont Public Library's late-2020 move into its new building presented the perfect opportunity. But first, public works chief Bill Heaps and his crew had to get the former library space ready to become a modern police department.
That led to a few interesting surprises.
"We found dead wires, we found a bunch of plumbing that was running backwards, and when we took out an old ventilation system in the police department that doesn't get used, we found a hidden room behind one of the walls with a cigar box and half-smoked cigar in it," Heaps said.
The former library space is getting new wiring, plumbing, insulation, fire doors and concrete flooring.
Klobucar said Heaps, public works and volunteers like Councilman Dennis Urban have put in some hard work.
"They came out the one day looking like they spent eight hours in a coal mine," Klobucar said.
And, while funding the move wasn't much of an issue two months ago, Klobucar said he got "awfully nervous" when a boiler in the borough building needed immediate replacing earlier this month.
"I didn't want to put the borough in a bad spot," he said. "This is supposed to be good for everyone."
So, Klobucar and Mayor Alyce Urban started a fundraising campaign that has brought about $18,000 in just three weeks.
Additionally, throughout March, Victory auto dealer in Delmont will donate $100 from every car sold to the police department to help fund the move.
"People have been very, very generous, and it's wonderful," Urban said.
Klobucar said it's a little odd to be the one approaching residents and asking for help.
"Usually, it's the other way around," he said.
When it's finished, the new Delmont Police Department will have the benefit of a training room, a dedicated server room for computer equipment, and an evidence room that's about three times the size of the existing one.
"We're just running out of space," Klobucar said as he stood in the current squad room. "When you get a few people in here, it gets crowded quick. Plus there's not a lot of privacy. If you're in here interviewing a victim, the holding cell is just right across the way."
Klobucar hopes work will be ready in time for the police to move into their new space this summer. He said the new station couldn't happen without the generosity of Delmont residents.
"It makes me proud that we have that kind of relationship with the community," he said.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .