Local contractors only

Published 8:01 am Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WALTERS—American K-9 Interdiction LLC, the dog-training company that is relocating its operations from Carrollton to Walters, says it will only be using local contractors to build a new facility on Burdette Road.

The company’s owners, Nigel Rhodes and Paul Roushia, said they wanted to only use local contractors because of the impending closure of the International Paper Co. mill in Franklin and the negative economic impact that closure was going to have on the community.

Rhodes, chief operating officer for AK9I, said Monday that Powell Management Associates of Virginia Beach would perform the project management duties.

“One of the things we said to (Powell), and which they agreed to, was that for any construction contract work, let’s try and utilize local people,” Rhodes said, adding that the decision to use local workers reflected his company’s desire to work with the community. The impending closure of the International Paper Co. mill at Franklin was also a deciding factor.

“We’re in the community,” Rhodes said. “We will always try to work with the community. We have to spend the money (on the project), so let’s try to spend it locally.”

Rhodes said the company, which trains dogs for the military, would spend about $1 million on construction and renovation work at the former minimum-security prison and juvenile boot camp, located at 4007 Burdette Road near Walters in southern Isle of Wight County.

The company will build a 200-room dog kennel on-site, surrounded by a 2-foot earthen berm along three sides to control noise, Rhodes said. A dense landscaping of trees and vegetation atop the berm will mitigate noise for surrounding residential areas. The fourth side to the facility will be open toward existing forest.

The company hopes to have the project completed by May.

“We’re chomping at the bit to get the whole thing started,” Rhodes said.

The Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors agreed to sell the former detention camp site and more than 50 acres to AK9I in November for $200,000. The board also approved the company’s move there by issuing a special-use permit for a commercial dog-training kennel, storage of high explosives and the boarding of military and civilian trainees.

The facility first opened as the Nansemond Correctional Unit in 1954. It was designed as a minimum-security prison and work camp for state inmates during their final days of imprisonment.

The prison closed in 1991, but the facility reopened in 1996 as the Virginia Juvenile Boot Camp, a facility that was also called Camp Washington. It was run by a private company under contract with the state and the City of Richmond until Dec. 31, 2000.

The facility has been vacant since 2001, and was declared surplus property by the state Department of Juvenile Justice in 2003. Rhodes said AK9I has been using the abandoned buildings at the site for dog training for the last two years.