Berryville council votes to close shooting range
BERRYVILLE -- Come Nov. 5, Berryville riflemen will have to shell out a bit more cash to cash out their shells.
The Berryville City Council voted Tuesday to close the shooting range at Luther Owens Park, until safety and liability concerns could be addressed.
The park offers the only public shooting range in the county. With usage fees of $2 a day or $20 a year, it is an affordable place for hunters and hobbyists to hone their skills.
However, lately, the range has also become a liability for the city.
Mayor Tim McKinney told council members on Sept. 4 that a low berm on the east side of the range had allowed bullets to escape and endanger neighboring residents.
He said homeowners had complained of bullets whistling through the trees and landing on their sidewalks.
On Tuesday, the mayor said council had waited to close the range to allow deer hunters the chance to sight in their guns before hunting season.
Council members did not set a timeline for reopening the range. However, McKinney had said last month he hoped to reopen the range by spring.
It is still not certain where the money to improve the berm will come from, either.
The mayor has said the work could cost as much as $100,000. However, he hoped it could be done for as little as $10,000. Of course, the mayor said the lower amount would probably require volunteer labor and grants.
McKinney said one citizen had already pledged his muscles and machinery for the job.
He has also said grant funding from the National Rifle Association could soften the costs of the improvements. No funding had been secured Tuesday, however.
McKinney said closing the range now would allow the city to perform necessary surveys and develop a work plan, so that funding could be solicited in the future.
"I think we do definitely need to fix it and keep it open," the mayor told council members in September. "It's an asset to the community."
Alderman Joel Gibson echoed that sentiment this week.
"We need to repair it or fix it some way, where it's safe," he said, "because people like it."
In other business Tuesday, council members:
* Approved the 2011 audit.
* Approved the September financial report, which showed sales tax receipts of $114,272.35 -- 4.28 percent higher than last September.
* Heard a monthly activity report from Police Chief Dave Muniz. Muniz said Berryville police officers had written 10 percent more tickets this September than last. The number of reported traffic accidents had also fallen from 15 to eight, he said.
About 10 percent fewer overall offenses were reported to the department than in September of 2011. Ten of 61 total offenses were aggravated assaults. One rape was also reported.
After delivering the activity report, Muniz told council members he would be interviewing people to fill seven reserve officer positions.
He was scheduled to conduct interviews on Oct. 18, he said, and hoped to begin training the new officers by mid-November.