- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - A soon-to-open firing range may be within the Columbus city limits, but Lowndes County officials have told the city’s mayor to keep his hands off of it.

On Monday, the Lowndes County board of supervisors voted down a written request by Columbus Mayor Robert Smith to have the city operate and manage the gun range, the Commercial Dispatch reports (https://bit.ly/1KLRZ87). Smith said his sentiments were backed unanimously by the city council.

Instead, the board decided the Yorkville Road firing range will be run by the county.

Board president Harry Sanders said he strongly opposed Smith’s request because the county contributed more money toward the range’s construction than the city did.

“We’ll run it, maintain it,” Sanders said. “We’ll pay for the utilities, maintenance and personnel ourselves and won’t bill the city anything.”

County and city officials have said the range is to benefit Columbus Air Force Base, as well as local law enforcement for training missions and certification. It is expected to be open to the general public when available.

Smith had wanted a member of the city’s police department, rather than the county’s sheriff’s department, to manage the firing range.

Sanders said he did not think any members of the city’s police department were certified trainers, whereas the sheriff’s department has three of them. Sanders said city officers were allowed to attend training at the range, but none attended.

“The company said that if the people who are running the equipment didn’t go to the training, it could possibly void the warranty,” Sanders said. “I just don’t understand why the city all of a sudden wants to take over the firing range.”

Smith said he’d like to see the city and county work together for a better solution. He suggested both entities hire someone to work at the firing range.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the range is scheduled for Friday.

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


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