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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022 1 week ago

Ocoee leaders move forward with police training center proposal

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Commission granted permission to the city manager to hire a consultant to evaluate an unsolicited proposal to construct a police training center at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
by: Andrea Mujica Staff Writer

The Ocoee City Commission granted permission to the city manager to hire a consultant to evaluate an unsolicited proposal to construct a police training center at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

The project, submitted by Fortress Secured, proposes a public-private partnership between the city of Ocoee and Fortress Secured to construct the center. The facility would include a training gun range for police officers with outside and inside areas available for different skills development.

At the moment, there is no approval to begin construction. Instead, the city manager will begin to advertise the project to do an analysis on the possible future proposals that will be sent to the city after the advertising of the project.

Regional agencies already have concurred this would be a welcome addition to the West Orange area and the range would be put to use if constructed.

“We have not asked regional agencies to kick in money toward this range,” Assistant City Manager Craig Shadrix said. “We have asked regional agencies if they would use our range, because they would be paying us instead of some other facility. So, let’s just say for example, city of Winter Garden. It’s a lot cheaper for them to come to us and pay the fair price for the training instead of sending their people to Southeast Orange County.

“Those are the conversations that we have had to this point,” he said. “We wouldn’t typically get into those until the commission has decided for sure that it wanted to move forward, and that’s after the proposals have been looked at.”

After some debate, commissioners were in agreement that approving the motion would be in the best interest of the city and unanimously approved the motion to hire a consultant to examine the unsolicited proposal and the advertisement of the project to invite new developers to submit other proposals.

 

HRDB RESTRUCTURED

The most contentious moments of the meeting came during the discussion of restructuring the city’s Human Relations Diversity Board.

Created in 2003, the board works to promote understanding, respect, goodwill and equality between all residents and businesses of the city of Ocoee.

After expressing concerns regarding the current state of the HRDB, the commission brought up the idea of restructuring and reorganizing the board. However, this idea brought some disagreement among the members of the commission — particularly between Commissioner George Oliver and Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen.

This disagreement came after Oliver created and posted a video that included comments about Wilsen. “Putting this video out insults me,” Wilsen said. “We are talking about reorganizing a board and not about me talking behind the scenes. It was insulting and lacking accuracy. I’m ashamed of that video, and I’m ashamed that it was done right here. … (The reason we are bringing this up tonight) is to make our board healthy and that board that I listened to today was not healthy.

“Being a part of a volunteer board should be fun; you should be enjoying what you are doing,” she said. “I don’t think anyone was enjoying what they were doing (the day of the board meeting). We want to make it healthy. We want to make it productive and we want our community to want to go to the (HRDB) functions.”

Oliver defended his position by adding, “I stand before my faith … I stand before what I said.”

In the end, the motion to have all elected officials nominate members of their districts to have two at-large board members per district and one representative from HighPoint Church, was approved 3-2, with commissioners Larry Brinson and Oliver dissenting.

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Andrea Mujica is a staff writer for the West Orange Times & Observer, the Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. She covers sports, news and features. She holds both a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Central Florida....

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