News Release

Published on Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Western Technical College recently broke ground on a 9,019-square-foot addition to its Sparta Public Safety Training Center, 11177 County Rd. A. The $2 million addition and remodel project will allow the college to move the Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Technician, and Fire Protection programs to the facility, eliminating the need for students to travel to both the Sparta Center and the La Crosse Campus.

“This is going to be great for our students; they can receive all of their classes and training in one place,” said Pat Fisher associate dean of the Public Safety division. “And, we can’t overlook how important this will also be to the communities that we serve.”

“The Western expansion project is extremely important to Monroe County,” echoed Western District Board member Ed Lukasek, of Sparta. “The college is located close to Ft. McCoy and the Wisconsin State Patrol academy. It will provide a ‘one stop shop’ for the emergency training needs of the state.”

The center is currently used by local police, firefighters, and EMTs for training. The DNR conducts 4-wheeler training on the property and La Crosse County has used it for BearCat armored vehicle training. According to Fisher, the additional space will provide many new opportunities.

“We have been approached about offering certain public safety training seminars for our community, but we needed to have seating for 100,” explained Fisher. “We hate to give up the opportunity for any type of training, especially since there isn’t another place to hold it in this area. The new facility will open up training from many different sources.”

And the training opportunities will go beyond the walls of the buildings. Natural prairie grasses will be planted on the property allowing local firefighters and Western students to conduct controlled burns and manage the prairie.

“Safety is our priority when teaching proper public safety methods and having a controlled environment is essential to making it as safe as possible,” said Fisher.

Western also plans to construct a pond/water reservoir on the property. The pond will have many purposes, including water rescue training and a water source for firefighter training.

“Since the facility will have state-of-the-art resources and equipment, our students will experience hands-on learning whenever possible,” said Mike Pieper, Western’s vice president of operations. “That was very important to us during the planning for this project. We want the facilities to run as efficiently as possible, and we want our students to see how it works and take that knowledge with them into the workforce.”

As part of Western’s Climate Commitment to reduce its impact on the environment, the remodeling and new construction will be completed with Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) standards in mind. With work at the site including lighting and HVAC upgrades and control systems, replacement of corroded copper piping with plastic piping, and the conversion of turf grass to native meadows, the college hopes to earn LEED certification when the project is completed in spring 2011.