SHERIFF'S STATION APPROVED; Thermal: Supervisors Give The Go-ahead To A Project That Also Includes An Aviation Education Center.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has approved a proposal to build a Riverside County sheriff's station and an Aviation Education Center on 20 acres in Thermal.

Growth is the drive behind these projects, said Anna Rodriguez, regional manager with the Economic Development Agency in Indio.

Sheriff-Coroner Bob Doyle said the station in Indio is cramped and Thermal is more of a centralized location to serve the contract cities of Coachella, La Quinta and several unincorporated communities such as Mecca and Thermal.

The new 77,000-square-foot sheriff's station includes a forensic lab, aviation facility, office space, hangar and a 12,000-gallon vehicle fueling station. This project will be constructed on 10 acres. The Indio station, approximately 11,000 square feet, houses 155 deputies and 31 support staff, Doyle said.

The facility is likely to cost more than $20 million to build, Rodriguez said. Construction is expected to begin in December or January, she said.

The Aviation Education Center is planned as a 20,000-square-foot facility with classrooms, library, a research section and an exhibit hall. Rodriguez said space would be provided for organizations such as the Palm Springs Air Museum and the Boys & Girls Club.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Coachella Valley has a Reach for the Stars aviation program that would benefit from the future center, said Toni Williams, director of operations for the organization.

Reach for the Stars gives youngsters 15-18 years old 12 hours of one-on-one flight instruction.

"We will have a presence . . . and provide better services," said Jim Ducatte, Boys & Girls Club executive director.

The projects will sit between Polk Street and Higgins Drive, an area south of Airport Boulevard in Thermal, Rodriguez said.

Reach Sandra Baltazar Martínez at 760-837-4412 or at sbmartinez@PE.com



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