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Development Authority to pitch in for Columbus firing range

 

Workers make progress on the construction of a new firing range near Columbus Air Force Base.

Workers make progress on the construction of a new firing range near Columbus Air Force Base. Photo by: Zach Odom/Dispatch Staff

 

Nathan Gregory

 

The Mississippi Development Authority will contribute $110,165 more than it was going to initially to help Lowndes County and the city of Columbus pay for a firing range for Columbus Air Force Base.  

 

In July, Lowndes County supervisors accepted a bid from Edge Construction of $464,318 to build the range, which is designed to support CAFB training missions. They did not, however, officially award the contract until receiving word from MDA that more state money would be allocated.  

 

The city and county originally agreed to split the remaining costs of the project after MDA contributed $1,053,000. However, the size and cost of the project grew $300,000 from its 2012 estimate to $1,698,418 after CAFB officials requested an extension of the range's length from 25 to 100 meters. That increased the berm from 12 to 20 feet, which meant more dirt would be needed. The increase meant the city and county would have to each pay $322,709 instead of $156,000. A day after supervisors accepted Edge Construction's bid, city councilmen approved paying $203,000 it had already budgeted for the project, but no more than that. This left a $119,709 balance.  

 

Edge Construction's contract will likely be scaled back if city councilmen approve a request to have public works crews clean and grub the range so the contractor will not have to, Lowndes County Administrator Ralph Billingsley said. The county will likely pay the remaining costs for Edge Construction to complete their portions of the project. "If they agree, they would be making up for the part of the overage they're not paying by doing in-kind grubbing," Billingsley said last week.  

 

Kevin Stafford of engineering firm Neel-Schaffer, who has been coordinating with MDA on the firing range, said all aspects of the project, including the building, are underway. The range should be completed by the end of the year. 

 

The Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District is installing piping and culverts to go into a ditch beside the range. 

 

For more information on today's Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and Columbus City Council meeting, see Wednesday's Dispatch.

 

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.

 

 

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