Sheriff's Proposal For Firing Range Still On Hold

By
Michael Locklear
Bethany Venable

Dateline
Updated Wed, Jul 25, 2012 9:10 am

An Athens County park group is raising concerns over the sheriff's proposal to use the firing range at Strouds Run for local law enforcement training.

Marie Mimi Morrison is on the board of the Friends of Strouds Run.
 
She also runs a kayaking business that uses the park and says noise from the range could drive away tourists.
 
"If it's disrupted with gunshots, then you know, it's not worth driving this far out of their way for something that's not serene and tranquil and peaceful and an escape from the city," said Morrison.
 
Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly says he'd be happy to sit down with the group to talk about their concerns.
 
"We've got to remember that that range has been there for over 40 years, and it just closed down recently. I had never heard any complaints in the previous 40 years that people had any problem with the firing range," said Kelly.
 
The state closed down the range at Strouds Run because it could no longer maintain it.
 
Kelly says county commissioners were initially on board with his proposal but have since backtracked.
 
County commissioners discussed the firing range during the regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.  
 
Commissioner Larry Payne says they're simply "doing due diligence."
 
"Our job as commissioners is to look out for the best interest of taxpayers' money, and with a gun range, there's questions about possible EPA rulings or future rulings because of all the lead in the ground at a gun range," said Payne.
 
The commissioners decided to request an assessment from the Environmental Protection Agency before moving forward.  Commissioner Lenny Eliason says they expect to file that request in the next day or so, but there is no time table as to when assessment might actually take place.
 
Payne says he also wants to make sure the county isn't the only one on the lease.
 
He says it should be a joint agreement with Ohio University and Athens police departments.
 
He says they're waiting on the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources before moving forward.
     
Local law enforcement agencies now use the firing range at Hocking College, but it can take several weeks to get a slot there.
 
Kelly has proposed a 25-year lease for $1 per year.
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