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Sullivan County to build new firing range

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BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — Plans to move forward with building a new firing range and training facility in Blountville were recently approved by the Sullivan County Commission.

For about 15 years, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office has had a firing range and training facility at the landfill off state Route 394 in Blountville. The county once owned the land and sold it to a developer who first announced plans in 2006 to expand a landfill.

The business came to be Eco-Safe, and it allowed the Sheriff’s Office to continue using the existing firing range and training facility the county built there. Sheriff Jeff Cassidy said he was notified in October 2020 that Waste Management purchased the landfill and that his office could continue using the property until Dec. 31, 2021.

Two Sullivan County commissioners, Gary Stidham and Angie Stanley, presented a resolution on first reading in October asking the commission to approve earmarking up to $1 million of federal relief money to build a new firing range and training center.

The commission then met Nov. 18 and unanimously voted in favor of moving forward with the design, architect and construction of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s training facility. Mayor Richard Venable assisted in locating the county-owned land on a hillside across Massengill Road just up from the Sullivan County Animal Shelter.

Cassidy said there has been a dire need for a firearms training facility and mandatory POST (Peace Officers Standards and Training) for the 158 certified officers in Sullivan County. Officers are required to take annual in-service training, which must include firearms training requalification with a service handgun and any other firearm authorized by the department. Annual training must be at least eight hours, Cassidy said.

There are 160 POST-certified officers in Sullivan County, as well as 125 corrections officers. In 2020, the SCSO held 13 annual in-service firing range training days. There are also additional specialized classes for firearms instructor school, basic SWAT school, active shooter school, dignitary protection, officer survival school, basic firearms for corrections, corrections SORT Team and qualifying of 10-15 retired officers.

Additional departments also use the firing range, including the Northeast State Community College campus police, Bluff City Police Department, Sullivan County constables and the officers at the Tri-Cities Airport.

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