- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - Officials expect to have completed by October a new firing range for local law enforcement agencies and Columbus Air Force Base personnel.

A state economic impact grant is providing more than $1 million for the project. The Commercial Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1gi6YJr ) that the city of Columbus and Lowndes County are each providing more than $30,000 in land donations and $275,000 in in-kind services.

Lowndes 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 Maxim Medical closed its doors five years ago. 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 said the project relocates and improves on what enforcement have now and 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.”

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com

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