Former State Police Officers Get Souvenir of Old Barracks

June 30, 2015 / / News

By Ed Waters, Jr., The Frederick News-Post
Thursday, June 25, 2015

558c9732ed6c1.imageMore than 50 former Maryland State Police officers, dispatchers and mechanics were on hand Thursday afternoon to pick up a souvenir of their old barrack on West Patrick Street.

But they weren’t just picking up weathered red bricks; they were piling up fond memories.

The barrack, at West Patrick Street and Baughman’s Lane, is being demolished to make way for a Wawa fuel and convenience store.

“We used to have a shooting range there,” said Henry Pilch, a 44-year state police veteran who spent 121/2 years at the site, pointing to the back part of the property.

“And they served meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Pilch, who later in his career went into the aviation section of the state police. The police helicopter used to land on the site.

Dick Poffenberger spent three years at the Frederick barrack, but was in the police for 37 years.

“We had a Chevrolet panel truck, painted khaki, and that was an ambulance. There were not many ambulances then and we [state police] would go to a call about an injured person or accident and take people to the hospital. There wasn’t anything on the truck but a first aid kit.”

Carl Harbaugh, an investigator with the state police in the 1960s, made the first drug arrest in Frederick County, he said while he waited to pick up a brick from the barracks site.

Harbaugh later served as Frederick County sheriff, from 1990 to 1994.

Although many think of the iconic Ford Crown Victoria as the mainstay of the police force, Jim Boston said he preferred Chevrolet police cars. Boston, a mechanic at the barrack, said today the state police are driving some vehicles with 300,000 miles on the cars, because state budget cutbacks mean new ones aren’t affordable.

“We used to have a fireplace over there,” Boston said, pointing toward the Baughman’s Lane side of the building. “We would burn [confiscated] marijuana and it got into the air. I think the people in the hotel [across the street] were getting high from it.”

Frederick Alderwoman Kelly Russell picked up a brick and some roof slating in the pile at the back of the barrack building.

A former officer with the Frederick Police Department, Russell said it was bittersweet to see the barrack go down.

“I am glad to see so many friends,” Russell said, referring to the state police officers. “I’m glad the Wawa will be brick, much like the barrack. It will be the gateway to the Golden Mile.”

Philip Andrews, a retired Maryland State Police sergeant, said he had paintings of both the old barrack and the new law enforcement center and would probably put his brick near those paintings.

“It might make a good doorstop, too,” Andrews said.

Capt. Ira Click, who commands the state police for Western Maryland, and Lt. Wayne Wachsmuth, commander of the Frederick barrack, had both served at the old barrack and were glad to talk with some of the former officers at the event.

The barrack building was completed in 1950, and the state police relocated in 2002 to the Law Enforcement Center near Frederick Municipal Airport.

The new Wawa

Henry Forster, vice president of Core Development Group Inc., said the company has owned the property for eight years.

“The site was planned for a bank and a retail strip center, but redesigned for the Wawa. There is a small pad site as well,” Forster said.

Construction of the Wawa will begin in July, with an anticipated opening in early 2016.

In his formal presentation, Forster said there will be road improvements to both West Patrick Street and Baughman’s Lane.

John Eidberger, project engineer for Wawa, thanked the officers for their service.

“We at Wawa strive to honor our everyday heroes, our police and first responders,” Eidberger said.

Wawa will work to become an integral part of the Frederick community.

The new Wawa is the first in the city of Frederick.

Two others are outside the city limits.

Justin Kiska, president of the Golden Mile Alliance, which works to bring businesses to the area, said the Wawa will be the first major physical change on the Golden Mile and he hoped it would spark more business and development on the West Patrick Street corridor.

The business will be about 5,600 square feet, have about 12 fuel sites and hire 35 to 45 employees.

It will be open 24 hours and will cost about $6 million to build.