$68 million El Dorado sheriff’s complex to open this fall – complete with giant eagle statue

Come September, a 10-foot-tall bronze statue of an eagle atop a large concrete pedestal will mark the north entrance of a $68 million public safety facility for the El Dorado County’s Sheriff’s Office in Placerville.

The sculpture, which will be cast by local artist Georg Schmerholz, will represent the values of both public safety and service, and the United States, Sheriff John D’Agostini told the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors during its Tuesday meeting. The large monument was a key part of the sheriff’s “vision” for the new campus, even before construction began, Schmerholz said.

When he saw a granite eagle sculpture Schmerholz had made for a previous client, the sheriff said “This is fabulous, this is exactly what I had in mind,” according to Schmerholz. A bronze cast of the statue was agreed upon.

After a brief discussion, the board approved the donation of the sculpture – valued at $500,000 and financed from private donations through the El Dorado Community Foundation – to provide a crowning touch to a massive new campus the Mountain Democrat coined the “Sheriff’s nest.”

The names of individuals who donated to the El Dorado Community Foundation for the statue have not been disclosed. D’Agostini told the board that a plaque listing donors may offer transparency. “Some of those donors would like recognition,” he told the board. Schmerholz said he expects some donors may wish to remain anonymous.

The 11-acre complex, which will house a main office, morgue, evidence building, training facility and shooting range, is the largest capital project in the county’s history.

According to county spokeswoman Carla Haas, the facility is expected to be “completed, open for business” by early fall.

The campus, at 200 Industrial Drive, is being financed with a $57 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the county will pay back over 40 years with a 2.375 percent interest rate, and the county paying the rest of the budget. The county’s repayment schedule amounts to about $2.6 million annually.

Operations for the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office currently sprawl across 13 sites in the county, resulting in “increased costs and inefficiencies,” according to a county press release. Leasing various offices spaces costs the county about $300,000 annually, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Anthony Prencipe told the Mountain Democrat.

The current sheriff’s headquarters at 300 Fair Lane in Placerville was built nearly 50 years ago. A 2013 report from the Vanir Construction Management firm determined the building was at “end of life,” and that “the cost to upgrade this facility including ADA requirements is not justified.”

A county grand jury report from June 2016 found that “the current facility for the Sheriff’s headquarters is visibly overcrowded and is a substandard work environment.” It also recommended that the Board of Supervisors replace the headquarters with one that would house all departmental operations.

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Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks covers Sacramento County and the cities and suburbs beyond the capital. She’s previously worked at The New York Times and NPR, and is a former Bee intern. She graduated from UC Berkeley, where she was the managing editor of The Daily Californian.
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