Bladen Correctional Center on US Hwy 701 in White Lake, which was a 172-bed minimum security facility, was closed in October of 2013, and the property was sold this summer to Bladen County for $1. According to reports county officials wanted to acquired the property from the state to use it as a training facility for government divisions and to store emergency equipment securely.
Back in March of this year, Senate Bill 477 was introduced by Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) as a proposal to protect state monuments. The language changed as the bill passed through the Senate Committee on State and Local Government. The bill was passed with the new language allowing the sale of the correctional center property to the commissioners of Bladen County on July 1st of this year. The stipulation in the bill does mandate the property be “utilized for county government purposes”.
Now the new training facility is already being used for training purposes and renovations have already started as well. Local inmates are being used to help with the renovations which is saving tax payers money.
“There are so many people that have helped us get this turned over to the county,” Emergency Services Director, Bradley Kinlaw said.
Kinlaw explained, ”My department is working with the Fire Association, Law Enforcement and Bladen Community College to make sure we meet everyone’s training needs. It will certainly be a long project, but you have to start somewhere.”
There are office spaces, dorms, vocational class rooms, a commercial grade kitchen and extra buildings for training purposes. Kinlaw reported all the buildings there will be used in some way for training and/or secure storage.
The facility is already being used for Highway Patrol State Troopers’ training. According to Sgt. Barry Pait with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Department, his department hopes to start using the facilities within the next month. Currently they are waiting for the sewer and water issues to be fixed.
Sgt. Pait said, “We will use the facilities for training with defensive tactics, building entries, stress and occultation training.”
Pait said, “It’s really just opens up a world of possibilities for us.” According to Kinlaw and Pait the training facility will help each county division using the facility save money with their insurance coverages.
According to Sheriff McVicker, government agencies outside our county are interested in using the space because it is in a centralized location in the Southeast. McVicker said, “It’s in great shape and we are going to use it a lot. It’s a real asset to our community. If people have to come to our county during a power outage or catastrophic event, they will have a secure place to park their vehicles and leave their equipment.”
Kinlaw said, “We are required to build a three story training tower here on the property.” There is a patch of land that will be large enough for the building to be built; however, the construction on that project will not begin for a while.
The property is almost ready for more classrooms to be used, office spaces to be utilized, props to be used in the fields, and more of the property will be put to use by more agencies. The Emergency Services, Fire Association, Law Enforcement agencies, and Bladen Community College all have at lease one thing in common when it comes to the new training site, they are all excited about the possible opportunities it is bringing and the cost savings it will add to the county.
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