GENEVA – Kane County’s sheriff and its chief executive have agreed that the county needs to make the construction of a shooting range for the county’s sheriff’s deputies a leading priority for the county government in coming months.
But Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said he believes the county should be careful to ensure that the project doesn’t ultimately cost more than it should.
Thursday, Lauzen and Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez addressed a lunchtime gathering of representatives of the St. Charles and Geneva chambers of commerce.
The audience included city officials and business leaders from both communities.
Perez, who noted that he became the first Kane County sheriff to address a chamber gathering in St. Charles or Geneva, noted that his office faces several challenges in coming months.
He noted that his office continues to deal with a steady stream of foreclosures.
Last year, he said, his deputies and staff processed 5,000 foreclosures, compared to about 800 in 2005.
And his office also handles evictions of those whose homes have been foreclosed.
“It’s a heartbreaker, a stress you don’t need to have,” Perez said. “Every deputy is saying a prayer as they head to one of these, saying, ‘Lord, please make sure these people have already gone.’ ”
But of all the needs facing the sheriff’s office, Perez said the most pressing is finding a place for his deputies to maintain their firearms readiness.
The county’s gun range at the old jail site on Fabyan Parkway in Geneva became unusable in the opinion of county officials after it flooded earlier this year.
The sheriff said concerns over mold and lead contamination prevent people from using the site.
So the sheriff has asked the Kane County Board to move ahead with plans to build a new firing range near the sheriff’s office headquarters at the new county jail on Route 38 near Peck Road in St. Charles.
However, the price tag for the project has not yet been estimated.
Perez has said the county needs to pay an architect $67,000 to study the proposal and draw up estimates.
Some County Board members have hesitated to support that study.
Lauzen said he firmly supports the idea of building a firing range for sheriff’s deputies to give deputies the practice needed to maintain their legal ability to carry firearms.
“It’s something we’ve got to have,” Lauzen said. “We need to get behind that, and we’re going to deliver on that.”
However, Lauzen stopped short of endorsing the study sought by Perez.
“We’re talking about spending money on a study, before the decision has been made to build,” Lauzen said.
“Let’s get about building the thing so we’re not using up precious resources to study this thing.”