More funding needed for CAFB firing range

May 6, 2014 10:26:26 AM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


Bids on the building and bullet trap for a new Lowndes County shooting range have come in over the original budget, meaning more funding from the county and city will likely be needed for the project to happen. 


The Golden Triangle Development LINK received a Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority Military Base Enhancement Program grant that would contribute 80 percent of a $1,330,000 grant toward construction of a new firing range for the Columbus Air Force Base, as well as local law enforcement with the county and city to split the remaining 20 percent in land donations and in-kind services. The original estimated cost for a building and 14-lane bullet trap was $860,000, but the lowest base bid from Burks-Mordecai Builders came in at $1,082,000. Even with the deletion of exterior lights and contingency in the original budget, the bid now puts the project at $1,457,000 overall. That's $92,000 over the original project budget. 


Lowndes County supervisors agreed to pay for half that overrun Monday provided the city of Columbus will front the other half. 


Part of the grant specification is that the project must be complete by October 22. One option that could have been pursued was a re-bid, but Chris Morrow of Pryor and Morrow, the engineering firm tasked to design the range, said that process would take six weeks and cut into an already tight construction window. Plus, Morrow said several cutbacks have been made to the project scope. 


"The project, I feel like they would have a hard time endorsing it with much less," Morrow said. "The issue is today they travel to Camp McCain (in Grenada) to do these exercises. The goal is to give them a location closer than that. They would like to have a lot more than this package." 


The package includes seven alternates, including moving targets, that could be added in the future to enhance the range when more funding becomes available.  


The Columbus City Council meets today at the municipal complex at 5 p.m. and will consider providing the other $46,000. 


County supervisors approved soliciting dirt bids for the range, which will be built at the old Maxim Medical property now owned by the city and county, last week. 


The ranges local law enforcement uses now is located by the new Justice Court building on South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, which is in a residential area. It will be shut down once the new range is complete.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.