March 11, 2014 10:19:24 AM
Design of a new firing range for local law and Columbus Air Force Base personnel is under way and the project itself should be complete in October.
Golden Triangle Development LINK Vice President for Economic Development Brenda Lathan said the economic development group successfully applied for a Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority Military Base Enhancement Program grant. It will provide $1,053,000 to construct the new range by the old Maxim Medical building just off Yorkville Road that the county and city purchased five years ago. Both entities are matching more than $30,000 in land donations and $275,000 in in-kind services.
The county is soliciting quotes to harvest timber from the pine trees that currently make up more than half of the 20 acres it and the city purchased when the medical facility closed its doors. Both the county and city currently use the building for offices and storage.
The range local law enforcement use now is located by the new Justice Court building, which is in a residential area.
City engineering consultant Kevin Stafford, who has worked with local firm Pryor and Morrow on project design, said this project not only relocates and improves on what enforcement have now but meets CAFB regulations and gives military a local training facility.
"We've already discussed the building layout to make sure it meets Columbus Air Force Base specifications," Stafford said. "There are certain specifications on the current range the city has that does not meet the base's regulations. There are certain guns they shoot that they can't shoot at the current range and this will allow them to stay in town and gets us an updated firing range."
Stafford said the design should be done by the end of the month.
CAFB Public Information Officer Sonic Johnson said the new range will allow for training and certification of airmen without them having to travel to other facilities.
"It's a great public-private partnership," Johnson said.
Lowndes County supervisor Harry Sanders said this will make good use out of property that has been underutilized.
"It's going to be a really nice facility," Sanders said. "We'll probably also let other local agencies like Oktibbeha, Clay and Noxubee counties use it to certify their patrolmen. If there's any time left when law enforcement and the Air Force Base aren't using it, we could open it to the general public."
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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