East High to add air rifle range - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

East High to add air rifle range

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Ready, aim, and fire at Waterloo East High. On Monday the school board approved a project that would allow an air rifle range to be built in the basement of the school as part of the school's JROTC program.

The JROTC program at East High includes 157 students. The program's leader Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Stephens has been asking for the range for four years. On Monday the school board approved the project by a vote of six to zero.

Waterloo Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary Norris says he has been researching this project for a couple of years. After much thought and consideration he decided to push for approval.

"I talked to our insurance people to see if there were any liability issue and they shared with me it wasn't substantial in difference from the liability the school district would have with sports going on---football or basketball, or track," said Norris.

With safety being the priority at East High School the air rifle range will be scrutinized by safety officials.

"The city is going to have final say so on all of this. First of all they have to approve the construction project. The fire marshal has to weigh in about the safety. Dan Trelka, a former marine, will weigh in so I can't imagine that every ounce of safety and prevention is going to be afforded to the students," said Norris.

Students will be supervised at all times when the air rifles are being used. They will also be locked up when they're not.

"I don't want to minimize the fact that certainly an air rifle could damage someone's eye, but they're not life threatening. They're like high powered BB guns. Once I understand what they were trying to do and understand how it would help our 157 young people that are in the very special program they made me a believer out of me," said Norris.

The former locker room will get a major makeover. It will get new lighting, a new ventilation system, and fire rated walls and doors. It will also have a new ceiling to protect plumbing and gas lines that are already there.

If everything is approved, the shooting range could be completed by January. The cost is estimated around $125,000.

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