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Florida Guard could soon have new $10 million joint training facility and HQ in Flagler County

 Gov. Ron DeSantis unveils the Florida State Guard
Photo Courtesy of Governor's Media Page
Gov. Ron DeSantis unveils the Florida State Guard

The planned multi-million-dollar deal is part of an expansion of the guard that lawmakers approved this year.

The deal includes a leasebetween the state of Florida and the Flagler County Commission along with funds to expand the county’s public safety building.

WFSU spoke with Flagler’s Sheriff Rick Staly. He says he actually had plans to build on his already existing public safety building years ago. Then last year, Republican House Speaker Paul Renner approached him with a proposition to— as Staly says, “blend the Guards needs with his.”

“It is using the same dollars to solve multiple public safety training needs, instead of building separate independent complexes," said Staly. "We had space available in my jail administration building and the state guard needed space to start their operation and headquarters.”

The $117 billion budget signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis includes $107 million for the newly revived Florida Guard. Of that, $10 million will go toward securing somewhere to house the force and its equipment.

The money will cover the construction of a new training facility including a firing range for the Guard. Local law enforcement, and the fire department will also have space on the property’s 62 acres. But money aside, Staly says this deal offers Flagler an extra layer of protection, while giving the Guard easier access to deploy.

“We do occasionally get a hurricane or tropical storm that damages Flagler County, so having the guard here is kind a nice and help respond to those kinds of things," said Staly. "But also, I think it’s a good because the state guard can get on to I-95 (interstate) and go north and south, anywhere in the state.”

The State’s force will not only assist in hurricanes. DeSantis signed into law last month, making it legal for State Guardsmen to fill in for the National Guard and to serve as substitutes for state agencies including law enforcement—giving some members the right to make arrest.

Staly expects the deal to clear and begin the construction by the beginning of next year, after the new budget year starts on July 1.

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Adrian Andrews