FVTC public safety training center taking shape

A Boeing 727 airplane donated to Fox Valley Technical College for training is seen in this undated photo. (FVTC)
A Boeing 727 airplane donated to Fox Valley Technical College for training is seen in this undated photo. (FVTC)

GREENVILLE - A big piece of Fox Valley Tech's new Public Safety Training Center at the Outagamie County Regional Airport rolled into place Wednesday.

The donated cargo jet is just a part of a project voters approved in 2012.

As the 727 donated by FedEx inched closer to its new home at the Public Safety Training Center Wednesday, the center itself is now about half-built. It has the staff who will use it already marveling at its potential.

"I don't even think we know what we'll be able to do here yet, we have an idea, but I think we won't fully realize its potential until it's done," said Jeremy Hansen with Fox Valley Technical College.

The construction for the project is several months ahead of schedule and when it's completed with more than 100,000 square feet of space available, officials say it could be a draw for public safety training from around the country.

Supporters believe the $35 million cost will be offset by an estimated $12 million a year boost to the local economy.

And that's money police, fire and EMS workers believe is well spent.

"It allows officers to go in there and participate in training in a real world hands on environment and I think that will be extremely valuable," said Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson.

Chief Peterson says his officers train up to 60 hours a year. But usually in public facilities where some training can't be simulated. He says the new center will fill that void.

"You don't want the first time to be when they are out doing it on the street in the real world, so this gives us the opportunity to engage in those types of activities in a training environment."

Moving the plane, which can be used to train for hostage situations or medical rescues, certainly drew the attention Wednesday. But beyond that, Hansen says the center will become one of only a few like it in the country.

"This is probably the most realistic training center in the Midwest, there isn't anything like it."

The training center is scheduled to be open by next January.

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