Pulaski Town Council votes for town to re-join New River Criminal Justice Training Academy

Pulaski Town Council approved resolutions Tuesday evening to give notice to Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy the town is withdrawing its membership and will instead apply for membership to the New River Criminal Justice Training Academy.

Town Manager Darlene Burcham said she understood that 20-plus years ago, the town was a member of the regional academy in Dublin which serves this area but chose to go with the Cardinal Academy located in Salem instead.

“We had a request to look at that issue and I had some police department staff attend some classes at the local academy – staff who had been fairly recent graduates of the Cardinal academy. They found New River to be more than satisfactory,” Burcham told council.

In making the change, officers attending the academy from Pulaski will avoid the distance traveling back and forth to Salem and “the big challenge of I-81.”

Burcham said officials at the Dublin academy expressed interest in the town returning to membership with them.

“I also discussed it with Sheriff Mike Worrell who was encouraging us to consider moving back to the New River Academy.

“Those who attend that academy are the ones our officers interact with on a regular basis, while the lion share of those going to Cardinal Academy were from Roanoke and Roanoke County,” Burcham noted.

To withdraw from an academy, the State Code says a locality must give notice by October 1 to be effective July 1 of the following year, hence the reason for acting now.

Councilman Greg East said he was glad to have this take place.

“To have our officers stay local, support our local academy and work with the officers they will be working and interacting with just makes sense,” he said.

Councilman Jamie Radcliffe, long a proponent of the move noted he had been “fighting for this for years.”

“I just didn’t have a town manager that wanted to pursue it,” he stated. “Never could understand why we would send our officers to the City of Salem, spending our tax money outside our area.  And it (travel) makes for a very long day.

“The academies are governed by the same state. You have to take the same exam. It’s never made any sense. I commend the manager for stepping up to the plate on this. We have a new chief of police. It’s a new time. She’s a veteran of our police academy here. That’s something to be proud of,” Radcliffe continued.

According to one councilmember, parents’ eagerness to get in line to pick up their children at Pulaski Elementary School is beginning to cause problems.

Councilman Lane Penn said he had gotten complaints about the parent pickup at school during the afternoons. Penn said the school doesn’t allow parents arrive on school property to pick up their children before 3 p.m. Penn said that is prompting many parents to line up on Morehead Lane in both directions, with the line starting to form about 2 p.m.

Penn said that, in case of an emergency it would be difficult for first responders to get through.

Burcham said she would have the police take a look at the situation, as well as speaking with the school system.

– Council approved the addition of Braxton Cox to become a member of the town’s Architectural Review Board.

– Burcham told council that, after discussion with the town attorney, it was determined town council should take a public vote on its decision of a couple meetings ago to authorize a loan in the amount of $50,000 to Steve Critchfield.

The purpose of the loan was to support Critchfield’s company, JS Pulaski Property, LLC in the purchase of the former Jefferson School property.

Burcham said the loan would be payable in two years with an interest rate of 4 percent per year and interest payments due on the first day of each quarter while the loan is outstanding. The town will place a lien on the property as collateral.

“Those are all terms that Mr. Critchfield offered. The county also accepted his proposal with this understanding,” Burcham told council.

Burcham noted she and Brady Deal, Town Planner and Economic Development Director had further conversations earlier Tuesday with interested parties on the development of the Jefferson School property as a facility that would have heavy concentration in workforce development as well as a relationship hopefully in the future with various colleges at Virginia Tech.

“He (Critchfield) hasn’t done anything yet with the loan, but his attorney has contacted us asking for some official documentation as to the action taken by council,” Burcham said.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot