Meridian, Miss. City officials are working toward making the training facility in Meridian one that first responders from all over the country can come to for instruction and practice.
Right now, the Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Safety Training Facility caters to those in this area, but Public Safety Director Bunky Partridge says he wants to widen that scope and reach out past county lines to the entire U.S.
"The training center trains local people. We do a lot of in-house with the police officers, the firefighters," he says. "But we're looking to expand that. To go state-wide, to go nation-wide."
Partridge has presented the idea to the mayor and City Council. They support the proposition and are trying to help him achieve that goal. Mayor Percy Bland says this could prove as an economic boost to Meridian.
"It will bring activity to our community, and again, it would help us with some of our sales taxes and other things," the mayor says. "So it would be a great idea if we could get that done."
The facility could bring back money in other ways, as well. Partridge says they're hoping to charge per student with about 20 students per class, then be reimbursed from the state. That would bring in a profit from about $90,000 to $120,000. Dustin Markham, president of the City Council, says the focus right now will be on trying to sell the idea.
"We want to see what we could do as far as marketing it in the state and outside the state, and by doing that, we need to make it more detailed or optioned as to some of the other things they could provide in addition to their training," he says.
Partridge says making the training facility into a statewide or national facility will take plenty of politicking. But they already have all the equipment they need.
"We have 99 acres. We have 7 ranges. We have a four-story drill tower," Partridge says. "We're a unique training center, where we can train fire, police, EMS, all in one location."
But it will take a lot more work before this dream is a reality.