Fiscal Court was up in the air on allowing a request to construct a firing range for the county by Sheriff Wallace Whittaker at Tuesday’s court meeting. A vote to do away with the idea all together made its way to the table after much discussion, passing with three yes votes to one no and two abstaining. Magistrate Russell Poore was absent.
This doesn’t mean the issue won’t be brought up at another time as Magistrate Jo Orange, Jack Crossley and Barry Joe Wright asked for more information concerning costs associated with the idea.
Sheriff Whittaker wants the county to have its own firing range. The department has utilized the city of Russellville’s range, located on Newtown Road for years, but Whittaker now has concern of the growing population in that area, along with the growing use of the range. The sheriff says his department has been driving to Franklin to use the facilities there instead.
According to Whittaker, the county has an opportunity to have its own range at the old rock quarry located on 68-80 east. The county would have to grade the area used and build a backstop berm, but pay nothing for the property they will use. There is already a building in the area.
Magistrate Thomas Bouldin didn’t feel the county needed a range and that the city’s range was adequate.
“There is a perfectly good and safe firing range out Newtown Road. It has been there ever since I was a kid. There is a fence, building and targets. It is used by the jail and police department,” said Bouldin, who also believed there would be a cost to the county by having to construct its own range.
County Attorney Joe Ross said he checked with the county’s insurance provider about coverage of a firing range and found they would not be covered for environmental costs and liability. Whittaker said he understood the concern was if they used lead shells.
Bouldin, who made the motion to do away with the idea after Whittaker said to forget it, said he wasn’t against Whittaker’s idea, he just didn’t think it was needed.
“I don’t see any reason to argue over it, the property was given to us. It won’t hurt me one bit,” said Whittaker, adding his department would continue to go to Franklin.
Magistrate Crossley said he appreciated Whiuttaker’s concern for safety for the people out Newtown Road, but before deciding to vote in favor of the idea, he would have to know more about the cost first.
Magistrate Wright said he was concerned about liability issues. “I personally think you can use Franklin’s until you can come back with more information,” said Wright.