NORTON — City council has agreed to let an outdoor tourism business hold firearms events and other events at the city police department’s firing range.
Council on July 15 agreed to modify an existing special use permit for Pathfinders Outdoor Adventures, which operates out of a downtown storefront.
Pathfinders already uses the firing range, located just outside Norton near the road to Appalachia, to conduct firearms training courses.
According to an email from co-owner Mark Caruso to City Manager Fred Ramey, Pathfinders wants to begin hosting shooting matches, skeet shoots, archery contests and survival training events at the firing range.
Caruso, a member of city council, abstained from the discussion and council action during the meeting. His wife and co-owner Carol Caruso answered other council members’ questions. Councilman Huck Hunnicutt was not at the meeting.
Before the vote, Councilman Terry Roop asked if anyone else has sought permission to use the range. No, Ramey said, except for a previous one-time event by Mountain Empire Community College.
Roop said he wanted to avoid any concerns or allegations that council might show favoritism to a council member’s business.
Roop asked whether city police or rescue officials would be on hand for events and who would pay for their time. Ramey said his understanding is that police and rescue are notified when Pathfinders does an event at the range, but the intent is not necessarily to place a police officer at an event.
Carol Caruso said if rescue personnel are needed onsite, Pathfinders will pay for their time and expenses. The company also will arrange to have portable toilet facilities onsite.
Also, the company has provided documentation of insurance coverage for events.
Roop asked if the proposed new events had been discussed with the police chief. Ramey said he anticipates the department will have no problems with quarterly events taking place.
Officer Joe Baird, who was attending in Chief James Lane’s absence, said the police department does about two training events per year at the range.
Roop said he appreciates what Pathfinders is doing and aims to do. “I’m not trying to be tough on you,” he said.