By Tom Donaldson

Atlantic News, Thursday, July 7, 2003

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]

HAMPTON — The traffic had dissipated but the heat still radiated off the blacktop behind the aging Hampton police station on Ashworth Avenue. About 80 people had gathered to witness the long-awaited beginning for the new station.

Prior to the official ceremonial turning of the first shovelsful of earth, Police Chief William Wrenn recognized and welcomed the assembled crowd, which included state representatives, town selectmen, members of the Hampton Police Association, friends of the department, and members of the planning committees who had worked for and supported the long-awaited project.

[Photo left: Police Chief William Wrenn at the podium for the ground breaking ceremony.]

“I didn’t think it would ever happen,” said Chief Wrenn. He explained that in 1963, the present structure was built as a temporary housing for police. In 1980, a commission recommended a new station because of the need for space and the condition of the deteriorating building. Forty years later, the new building was going to be under construction.

“Fifteen months from now, we’ll be moving in,” said Wrenn.

The police chief then introduced Hampton Town Manager James Barrington, whom he thanked for his efforts and hard work to bring the project to fruition. Wrenn said that when Barrington became the town manager five years ago, they took a tour of the present building and discussed the need for a new station. Barrington took one look and said, “I’m on board; let’s go.”

Barrington declared the event an “historic occasion,” and thanked the voters of the town who voted not once but twice to assure there would be adequate finances to build the new station.

Selectman Chairman Brian Warburton was next to the podium, where he read a letter from John Steven, assistant commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Safety. In the letter, Steven lauded the venture and congratulated Hampton officials and residents for the new start of a modern-day police facility.

Concluding his remarks, Warburton thanked the board members and the voters for their efforts over the years.

The selectman chairman was followed by B.J. “Doc” Noel, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce. Noel declared the event a proud moment, and offered the continued support of Chamber members.

“The Chamber is here to serve,” he said.

After the speakers’ brief declarations, shovels were distributed to town dignitaries, officials and representatives from the architectural and construction company. With shovels in hand, they all turned the first bit of ground that will become the “new” Hampton police station 15 months hence.