Sat12202014

Last updateWed, 27 Dec 2017 12am

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Citizens, BoS ask for O’Gara open house

Expressed interest in operations and site development, economic impact

Earlier this month O'Gara project neighbor Bonnie Balderson questioned the Westmoreland County Supervisors about operations on the security training establishment's site.
"What revenue is O'Gara Group bringing in to the county?" she asked the members of the Westmoreland County Board.
"O'Gara Group has been here for almost a year. I can hear shooting, but it hasn't been a nuisance. I now understand that they are adding a driving course. It would be nice if we could have a report on that.
"The revenue would help our county."

Balderson previously told the supervisors she had been permitted by O'Gara Group to enter the property and view the development that already was in place. She described the tour of the establishment as a pleasant experience.
Last year the O'Gara Group purchased a large tract of land behind the county's industrial park and began developing a training facility that included classrooms, shooting ranges and, most recently, a paved loop-driving course.
In January 2009 O'Gara Group contracted to buy the county government's unoccupied industrial shell building. A series of successor purchase agreements were executed but were allowed to expire. There is currently no contract on the industrial park's shell building.
Private citizens expressed concern in 2009 that O'Gara's by-right presence on the agriculturally zoned property would be incompatible with existing land use activities in close proximity. O'Gara trainees are deployed as security personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
County government officials touted the successful recruitment of O'Gara to Westmoreland as an economic boon. The establishment would employ local residents and trainees would patronize nearby dining and hospitality establishments. Economic benefits associated with O'Gara's presence have not yet been quantified.
Bob Quinn followed Balderson to the podium during the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting and made it known that he is also interested in the progress being made to bring the project to fruition. Quinn made it known that he is specifically interested in the number of employment opportunities the establishment has made available to local residents.
"I'm glad you asked these questions," Supervisor Darryl Fisher told Balderson and Quinn. "Right now we are in the process of trying to arrange for an O'Gara representative to come and update the public on their progress.
"The [briefing] will take place at a board meeting in the near future and we can certainly look at [economic] spinoffs. I know that a couple of the restaurants have done alright," he said.
"The employment opportunities are very important," Balderson commented.
"Providing that information is not a requirement, but it would be nice if they would share the information voluntarily," Fisher then explained. "I'm working on it right now."
Balderson recalled the informational session that was held at Carmel Church early last year, when O'Gara Group's James Noe promised local residents that the establishment would sponsor an open house, enabling private citizens to tour the facility.
"I don't think they've had one," she remarked of the promise of the open house event for county residents.
"I have also been told O'Gara intended to have an open house," said Board Chairman Woody Hynson.
"I'll ask [County Administrator] Norm Risavi to contact them in the next month so we can have some kind of response."
Risavi was on vacation when The Journal called his office earlier this week to ask about arrangements with O'Gara. The supervisors will meet again Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. in A.T. Johnson auditorium.
Zoning Administrator Robert Fink reported this week that the O'Gara establishment's paved loop driving course site plan has been approved.
Fink said he doesn't know if construction on that phase of the project's development has begun. He provided clarification about ingress and egress, advising that the only way in and out is the road O'Gara constructed a year ago behind the unoccupied industrial shell building.

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