Florida’s 2016 budget includes the remaining $3.08 million Polk State College needs to finish its Center for Public Safety — and local delegates and public officials couldn’t be happier.
“I am pleased and relieved that we received the final installment to complete our Center for Public Safety,” said Polk State President Eileen Holden. “We extend our sincerest thanks to our local delegation for advocating for this project during a tough budget year, and we look forward to opening this world-class facility in 2016.”
Located at 1251 Jim Keene Blvd. in Winter Haven, adjacent to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the 101,500-square-foot Polk State Center for Public Safety will house the College’s programs in Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Science Technology and the CALEA-accredited Polk State Kenneth C. Thompson Institute of Public Safety. The total cost for the building, which will be chock-full of cutting-edge training spaces and equipment, is $30 million.
Members of Polk County’s delegation hailed the news that the building has cleared the final funding hurdle.
“The completed funding for the Center for Public Safety is very beneficial for our community and for our state. The training that will take place in the facility will benefit citizens for generations to come. I am happy to have helped play a role in finishing this good project,” said Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland).
Rep. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland) was similarly elated.
“I’m happy Polk State College will receive the remainder of state funds necessary to complete the Center for Public Safety. Polk State College’s partnership with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is a model for cooperative workforce development. I look forward to the day when our community’s best and brightest can cross the threshold of this important addition to the education landscape of Polk County,” she said.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd concurred.
“I am very pleased that Polk State College has received this final important funding to complete the new state-of-the-art public safety training complex. I sincerely thank the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott for their support of this vital public-safety infrastructure. This project has been a partnership between a number of people and organizations from the beginning. We could not have accomplished this milestone without the leadership and support of Polk State College President Eileen Holden, (former) State Sen. JD Alexander, (former) Rep. Seth McKeel, and Polk’s county commissioners. The new facility will significantly benefit the citizens of Polk County and Central Florida by enhancing the training, education and skills of our public-safety professionals, making them better able to serve our community. The law enforcement academy is one of only five in the nation to have earned the prestigious accreditation with excellence from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA). We are so proud to have such an outstanding public-safety training complex in Polk County.”
Added Auburndale Police Chief and Florida Police Chiefs Association District 15 Director Chris Nelson:
“I am elated to learn that Gov. Scott signed off on the last $3 million needed to complete the Center for Public Safety complex. This funding will help ensure Polk State College continues to produce the best trained law enforcement and EMS personnel. This project shows how, working together, we can make Polk County a safer place to live, work and play.”
As the ink dries on next year’s state’s budget, construction at the Polk State Center for Public Safety has entered the interior phase. Project Engineer Robbie Manikis said crews are hanging drywall, laying tile, and preparing to install the HVAC system.
The ribbon-cutting for the Polk State Center for Public Safety is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2016, at 3 p.m.