Samarkand

The biggest share, $8.5 million, would pay for the second phase of the Samarcand Training Center under the N.C. Department of Public Safety on the site a former juvenile correctional facility in Eagle Springs that closed nearly five years ago.

For nearly a century, Samarkand Youth Development Center in Eagle Springs housed some of the state’s most troubled children until it closed in 2011.

Now the state is planning a $10 million renovation to convert it into law enforcement training center, the first of its kind in North Carolina, said state Rep. Jamie Boles.

Boles, a Southern Pines Republican, pushed for funding to be included in the state’s newly adopted two-year budget.

The budget includes $5 million a year in the next two fiscal years to renovate and update the former rehabilitation center on a wooded 450-acre site in northwestern Moore County.

“The potential is so huge for this facility,” said Boles, who serves as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Justice and Public Safety. “I get goose bumps every time I think about what it can be. It’s really going to be something we can all be proud of.

“It will be a great asset for this state and Moore County.”

The new state budget may also have spared another Moore County site: the historic House in the Horseshoe. That site was facing closure earlier this year. Boles said the budget cuts $50,000 from the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources budget for historic sites and allows the department the “flexibility to spread it around” and not have to close any sites.

Boles said the funding included in the budget for Samarkand will pay for renovating some buildings and updating them by adding new heating and air conditioning systems, and razing others.

That will allow the N.C. Department of Public Safety to provide overnight housing for statewide law enforcement training for corrections officer, alcohol law enforcement officers, State Bureau of Investigations and state Highway Patrol troopers, Boles said. It will also have a firing range that could also be used by the National Guard, he added.

“Right now, we don’t have a statewide facility,” Boles said. “We rent from community colleges.”

Boles said the state is short about 800 correction officers in the prison system. This new facility would provide better training for them, which he said should improve retention rates.

“This is something that is really needed,” Boles said. “This will be a state-of-the-art facility that these agencies deserve.”

Boles said he plans to push for funding next year to add a road course for vehicle training.

Once all of the renovations are completed, funding will be included in the state budget to begin operating the center in 2015, which Boles anticipates will have at least 20 employees.

He envisions classes of 20 to 30 officers going through training at a time

“It will be an economic boost for Moore, Montgomery and Richmond counties,” Boles said.

Boles fought unsuccessfully two years ago to keep Samarkand open after winning a reprieve in the previous biennial budget. When it closed June 30, 2011, the facility housed just 26 boys and had 56 employees. It had housed as many as 200 juvenile offenders.

Until the year before it closed, the facility had housed teenage girls. Juveniles were sent there by a judge after committing violent or serious crimes, such as attempted murder or armed robbery. Other juveniles are chronic offenders.

Boles said that when he was first elected to the House in 2008, there were 2,500 juveniles in state detention centers. He said that because of the passage of the Justice Reinvestment Act in 2011, that number had dropped to 400.

In 2008, Juvenile Justice built four new facilities and reduced the populations at its older youth development centers, such as Samarkand, preferring to have more facilities holding few offenders than a few large ones, state officials said then.

Boles said there are some 15 buildings on the Samarkand site that include dormitories, classrooms, dining hall, an auditorium that can seat 400 and a full-size church. It has a basketball court and baseball field.

“It is just sitting there unused,” Boles said.

(4) comments

Mark Hayes

Those "goosebumps" you are feeling may be the beginning of a rash of boils, Mr Boles, sounds as if this may be beneficial to some but funded by all, and all are not on board as it stands.

L Edwards

What a misdirection and misapplication of public funds. The statement that those law enforcement agencies have to "rent space from community colleges" is absolutely bogus and misleading. The fact is law enforcement agencies do virtually all their training at local community colleges with virtually no cost to those agencies - including Dept. of Corrections personnel. In most instances those same community colleges already have facilities dedicated to training. So much for the idea that this new legislature and administration are dedicated to fiscal conservatism. This is just a redirection of tax dollars. If this new facility opens the only thing that will happen are that additional education/administration dollars will be spent at a new education facility that competes directly with other, already established local facilities with existing staff. The extra cost of maintenance and staffing will only be the tip of the iceberg. Law Enforcement agencies will have higher travel and hourly wage expenses so that local officers outside of the Sandhills area can travel to this regional facility. So much for the facade of this new supposedly fiscal responsible legislature and administration.

rifle13

New state training facilities are nice and are needed...but now is not the time. The state has over 600 troopers that are working everyday. NC is second in the nation in total highway miles behind Texas. These dedicated men and women have been working for the past six years with long hours, aging and unreliable vehicles, sub-par fire arms, and a complete lack of respect from the government in which they serve. They were promised when hired that they would be compensated fairly for their duties. Their salaries are actually written into NC law. However, the state has found a way to suspend their pay that they were contracted to make and it was promised that it would be addressed in the 2013-2014 budget. It was addressed and shot down for the sixth straight year. However, the state some how came up with ten million dollars over the next two years to build a state of the art training facility. There are plenty of state funded law enforcement training facilities already. Including NC justice academy, western justice academy, Butner, and the NCSHP academy. All of these are located throughout the state and are functioning at this time. I feel that the state would better suited in putting the money toward the salaries that they have promised to the troopers. These men and women do not want raises. A raise constitutes compensation above a promised salary. They simply want to be paid what they have been promised by the state. Please support our troopers and let your local representatives know that this money could be best spent elsewhere. If the state keeps up there will be no troopers left on the job to train at that ten ten million dollar facility.

Deborah Williams

The reason it is hard to keep correctional officers is not lack of training. It is low pay, no pay raises and difficult working conditions. I worked for the prisons for 25 years and training was not an issue. There was plenty of it often. I was frequently in some sort of training or another. Glad to hear that the property at Samarkand will find a new use and our area will benefit from it.

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