- Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 August 2010 17:37
- Published on Wednesday, 11 August 2010 17:37
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“The Hunter Technologies Building is under contract,” District 2 Supervisor Russ Culver announced during the August 9 meeting of the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors.
“There’s a lease/option,” Culver continued. “I understand O’Gara is fixing it up and has it under lease/option at this time.”
The Journal talked to O’Gara Group President James Noe on Tuesday morning and Noe confirmed the truth of Culver’s Monday night announcement to the county residents.
“We signed the lease a week or so ago,” he stated. “We have a six-month lease with an option to buy.
“Right now we’re trying to evaluate the condition of the building and get a full understand of the superfund condition.”
Situated east of Montross on State Route 3 and immediately adjacent to Northern Neck Cheverolet, the large brick manufacturing plant was most recently occupied by Hunter Technologies, Inc., an enterprise that relocated to China.
The building was the result of the county government’s first major industrial development initiative. In early 1967 Scovill moved its cosmetics container manufacturing establishment from Waterberry, Connecticut to the newly constructed facility.
Scovill later sold to Arrowhead and on Arrowhead’s watch stormwaters breached the integrity of an outdoor holding pond, causing heavy metals to be released into the environment. By 1990 the surrounding property had been designated as an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site. The migration of the escaped materials is still being monitored by the federal government.
“The idea is to lease the building and get a better understanding of its condition and the cost of developing it for school classrooms and manufacturing functions,” Noe explained during the telephone interview.
“The location is excellent,” Noe stated. “Right now we need to consider if it makes sense to consolidate some of O’Gara’s other functions there. The building is great and I’m pushing to try to develop more business and jobs there in Montross.
“The building is huge. It has lots of potential for many functions you could do. O’Gara Group makes night vision equipment and armor [for vehicles]. We’re looking at the possibilities that building offers.
“We’ve looked at the community to see if it has the kind of workforce that can do the work associated with the particular business we are in. After viewing a lot of resumes, we discovered that the area offers a wide range of job specialties. It’s something that we wanted to pursue.”
O’Gara Group initially contracted to purchase the county’s unoccupied industrial shell building. A succession of contracts expired but O’Gara bought property adjacent to the county’s industrial park and developed classrooms, shooting ranges and other training facilities on its large tract of land and a driving course is being developed now.
In addition to its manufacturing enterprises, O’Gara Group provides training for security personnel deployed in combat areas. Westmoreland residents learned in January 2009 of the establishment’s plans to develop the training facility on property it intended to buy from Bryan Chandler and the county government. Private citizens immediately began expressing opposition to the project.
Opposition to the project and associated actions of the county government eventually resulted in court filings that will be heard next month in the Westmoreland Circuit Court.
After consideration of the lease/purchase agreement, the interview shifted to the July 2010 Board of Supervisors meeting’s discussion of an O’Gara briefing or open house event. One month earlier, a private citizen had asked the Board to take the lead in giving local residents an opportunity to become better acquainted with progress O’Gara Group has made in developing its new training facility.
“We’ve made ourselves available to anyone who wants a tour, but we want the county government’s involvement when we arrange an open house,” Noe said of the request which the Supervisors did not address during the Board’s August 9 public meeting.
“So far we’ve spent five or six million dollars here in Westmoreland,” Noe related. “We’re trying to be a responsible business that does good things for our community.
“We try to support the federal government with what they need,” said Noe of O’Gara Group’s contract services and manufacturing enterprise.
“We’re a very responsible company.”
By Betsy Ficklin