Terrebonne Sheriff's Units To Move Into Church Building

HOUMA, LA (AP) — A former Methodist church in Houma will soon house the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office crime lab and juvenile unit.

         The two units will be moving in the next few weeks to a red brick church at Goode and School streets that faces the Sheriff's Office.

         Built in 1921 as a Methodist church, the building has lofty ceilings and massive windows on all four sides, allowing air and sunlight to flow freely into the interior. The two-floor building, which originally featured an open-floor plan, has been partitioned into nine offices, Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said.

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         The first floor will house five offices for juvenile officers and the second floor will have four offices for crime lab detectives, Larpenter added. A lobby area is also expected to be located on the second floor.

         The juvenile unit will have a recreation area for at-risk or mistreated children who may need a "safe haven" while police investigations are underway, Larpenter said.

         The crime lab unit also boasts a spacious loft-like platform on top of the offices, where tables and cabinets containing important evidence will be laid out for the detectives' ease of reference.

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         Once a thriving religious landmark, the building fell into disrepair over the last few decades. It was abandoned for years before it came into the parish's possession, Larpenter said.

         Parish officials have been working to find an alternative use for the property while helping restore it to its former glory, said Parish President Michel Claudet.

         The District Attorney's Office was initially interested in the space but ultimately turned it over to the Sheriff's Office, first to Vernon Bourgeois' administration and then to Larpenter's, Claudet said.

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         The parish covered general renovations for about $35,000, and the Sheriff's Office took care of flooring and other materials for about $15,000.

         Trusties from the inmate work program also provided free labor, Larpenter said.

         After renovations of the past few months, Larpenter said the project is close to completion, except for electrical, plumbing and painting work.

         "If you don't do something with a building, if you don't use it, then it's going to deteriorate 10 times as fast," he said.

         – by AP/ Reporter Maki Somosot with The Courier

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