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Leaders reject training center in Polk County

Polk County leaders said Thursday they will not support locating a law enforcement training center in the county, an idea that Henderson County Manager Steve Wyatt and county commissioners had said they would pursue instead of a site in Saluda.

The preemptive decision by Polk County was yet another twist in the apparent collapse of the fourth try by Henderson County Sheriff Charlie McDonald, county administrators and the Board of Commissioners to site a law enforcement training center and shooting range in the county. After three previous attempts to find a location for the project — including two with an outdoor range — commissioners voted unanimously on April 2 to authorize administrators to offer $655,000 for 99 acres on Macedonia Road in rural Saluda. Meetings on Saturday in Hendersonville and Monday in Saluda drew 150-200 people and neighbors geared up for a political and legal war to defeat the firing range. The town of Saluda and Polk County commissioners notified Henderson County that they opposed the shooting range.

Wyatt told the Henderson County commissioners on Wednesday morning that he had received the letter and spoken with Polk County Manager Marche Pittman about partnering on a shooting range. In light of the "apparent decision Wednesday by Henderson County commissioners to abandon" the Saluda site, Polk County issued a statement that unequivocally rejected a site in their county.

"We are pleased that Henderson County appears to have chosen a different solution for their public safety training facility location," the letter said. "We look forward to working with them in helping choose a site that won't negatively affect Polk County citizens, tourism, or economic development. We are very aware of the fact that the location of a new facility would be a challenge for any citizen, so a new training facility being placed in Polk County would not be something we would be interested in."