Groundbreaking held for New River Valley Training Center
By Wanda Combs
A groundbreaking ceremony for a permanent home for the New River Criminal Justice Training Academy (NRCJTA) was held Friday morning in Dublin. Attending were various officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, and Pulaski County leaders, law enforcement officials from the area, and others.
Chief Steve C. Williams of the Hillsville Police Department and chairperson of the NRCJTA Board of Directors spoke about the Academy’s history. Since it was founded in 1975, the Academy has moved several times. One of its locations was destroyed when a tornado struck Pulaski County in April. The Academy is currently housed in an elementary school.
“Our gypsy days are over,” Williams told the group. “Today marks a day years in the making. Thirty-six years is a long time to wait, but the wait will soon be over.”
Ellen Davis, state director with the Department of Agriculture, commended all those who had worked to make the project possible. The Department is providing a $1.8 million 40-year, fixed rate loan, and also a $200,000 rural development grant to construct the facility. Last year the Department spent $87 million throughout the commonwealth on police cruisers, bullet proof vests, etc. The Department invested $1.3 billion in 2010 on construction projects, housing, broadband, and other things.
The Academy will sit on a part of a 270-acre property that had been donated to the Town of Dublin by Burlington Industries. Dublin Mayor Benny Skeens said the Academy was a welcome tenant.
Marty Alford, executive director of the Academy, said hopefully the building will be completed next year. “We appreciate all the sacrifices and vision that has been done.”
Thompson & Litton in Radford are the architects, and Synder & Associates in Blacksburg are the contractors.
The Academy serves law enforcement in Carroll and Floyd Counties, the City of Galax, the Town of Wytheville, Town of Independence, Town of Rural Retreat, Bland, Giles, and Montgomery Counties, Pulaski County, Dublin, Pearisburg, Pembroke, Rich Reek, Glen Lyn, and Radford University.
Floyd County Sheriff Shannon Zeman, who is vice-chairperson of the NRCJTA Board of Directors, also attended the ceremony, along with Floyd County Chief Investigator Jeff Dalton.
Zeman said the Academy averages 10-15 students in the 22-week road class, held twice a year, and a larger enrollment in its jail classes. The New River Valley Jail is the largest participating agency with approximately 300 employees.
The Academy also offers ongoing specialized classes year round. Participating sheriff’s offices and others pay a per diem rate per officer that helps to run the Academy.