Shawnee — Gordon Cooper Technology Center (GCTC) is in the process of building a $5 million Public Safety Center and training facility on its campus in Shawnee.

According to GCTC Superintendent Marty Lewis, the Safety Center will offer training programs and services to various public safety workers.

"The facility will include space to train for new and current paramedics to serve in our region, have a high school program that takes high school students through an introduction to law enforcement along with exposure to firefighting, paramedics, and other career opportunities associated with the Public Safety Pathway, train for existing law enforcement and security employers in our region, train existing firefighters (paid and volunteer) and train for any other Public Safety areas," Lewis said.

Construction on the building has already begun and it will be located on GCTC's main campus between the diesel training facility and the 45th Street.

Lewis explained the Safety Center will benefit Pottawatomie County and surrounding counties because future and current workers, such as law enforcement or volunteer firefighters, will receive top notch training.

"Quite simply, this facility and the training will allow many in our region to have access to a level of training that hasn’t been feasible before within our region," Lewis said.

The Safety Center will be more than 20,000 square feet, Lewis said, and will include: four classrooms, a paramedic training lab, a firearm simulation room, a driving simulation room, a workout space for law enforcement and firefighter training activities, a large meeting room, a fire training tower and additional water features for fire equipment.

The estimated cost for the Safety Center is $5 million and funds for the building and its features will be supplied by Building Fund proceeds.

"Through our strategic planning process, funds have been saved in the Building Fund over the course of the last few years, meaning no additional state, federal or local funds will be needed for this project," Lewis said.

The superintendent explained for projects like this it's common for technology centers to use a "pay as you go" financing plan because it lessons costs.

Lewis said the choice to build the Safety Center was inspired by a myriad of people including internal staff, student interest surveys and external stakeholders.

"The school has historically provided continuing education training and resources for law enforcement and firefighters," Lewis said. "Through partnerships with regional law enforcement, fire departments in the region and emergency medical services, we felt it was the right time to expand our options and opportunities in those areas.

Currently, construction of the Safety Center is scheduled to be complete in December.

"Gordon Cooper Technology Center has always attempted to meet the workforce needs in our region," Lewis said. "This new public safety center will allow us to provide important training for the public safety professionals we count on each and every day in our communities."