- Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 19:58
- Published on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 19:58
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Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors Chairman Darryl Fisher’s opening remarks this Monday morning included an observation that divine “blessings have really smiled on Westmoreland County.”
Fisher credited “divine intervention” for the fact “that we are in better [financial] shape than other jurisdictions.” That was 9:30 in the morning and members of the public would have to wait nearly twelve hours to learn just how providence had in fact intervened.
The day and evening’s frozen temperatures and the global economic freeze did not impede the effort of the Westmoreland County local government to unload its industrial shell building and surrounding 25 acres that have been empty for approximately one decade.
This Monday night the Westmoreland Supervisors and Industrial Development Authority returned from their closed door meeting and the Authority very quickly accepted the proposal made by The O’Gara Training Facility and Academy Initiative to pay the jurisdiction $679,178 for the empty industrial shell building and its surrounding grounds.
The security firm will additionally buy a privately owned wooded tract of approximately 325 acres that is immediately adjacent to the county government’s industrial shell building property and is situated in the rear.
When the Supervisors and Industrial Development Authority returned from their joint closed session, King George resident Ron Boline delivered the buyer’s power point presentation to the small group of interested county residents who waited to attend the recessed portion of the Supervisors’ January meeting. The session did not adjourn until approximately 10:30 on Monday night.
Boline holds the position of Tactical Operations Branch Manager with The O’Gara Group’s Training and Services Division whose address is 1120 Euro Rally Road, Alton, Virginia. The O’Gara Group is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The long-awaited presentation from the shell building buyers included a mission statement explaining that “The O’Gara Training and Services Division’s Training Facility and Academy seeks to provide a world-class tactical training and services facility that increases the level of professionalism to enhance the capabilities of Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies and security professionals supporting the United States of America’s initiatives and policies.”
The company objectives segment that followed described intentions to create “a world-class training facility and academy that supports training requirements of The O’Gara Group customers, promotes economic development of Westmoreland County and the Northern Neck area of Virginia [and] is a good neighbor within the community.”
The public learned that the establishment will maintain its reputation of conducting operations in a manner that “is environmentally conscious and compliant with all applicable regulations and best practices, [providing] a safe, yet challenging, environment for Local, State, and Federal law enforcement, government agencies and their supporting personnel to refine enabling skills critical to national defense.”
The O’Gara Group was described as “a leading provider of advanced security products and training solutions to aid in the global war on terrorism and to enhance Homeland Security.”
The Group has three business divisions. The Sensor Systems Division or SSD manufactures night vision equipment and tagging, tracking and locating devices. The Group’s Advanced Transparent and Mobile Systems Divisions manufactures armored vehicles and support materials.
The third division that is now expected to locate in Westmoreland County is the Training and Services Division or TSD that provides O’Gara Group clients with “innovative tactical and security training and services solutions to satisfy emerging requirements.”
The public learned that O’Gara’s TSD “provides comprehensive tactical and security training solutions through its tactical operations, technical services, preparedness and response and international training branches.
The tactical operations training facility that had been temporarily located in the Danville, area’s Virginia International Raceway will relocate to the tract described as approximately 2.5 miles south of Montross on State Route 3.
A training academy or school will be established on the 350-acre site. According to Richard Stuart, the attorney representing O’Gara Group on Monday evening, due to existing zoning in Westmoreland County the local government’s review of the new development will be limited to the county officials’ January 12 deliberations and Westmoreland Land Use Office’s administrative review of the project’s site plan.
The training facility will have capacity “to teach up to 120 personnel simultaneously in classroom and practical skills.” Curriculum will include academic offerings, motor vehicle driving skills, physical fitness, personal security tactics, techniques and procedures, and weapons handling/marksmanship training.
The facility will include a 1.5 mile driving course, an off-road driving course, development of a simulated urban training area of six square city blocks, student lodging and dining accommodations, a gymnasium, an obstacle/fitness course, ten small arms shooting ranges with reaches that vary from 50 to 1,000 yards and a complex of classrooms and laboratories.
The projected total cost of the completed facility is $20 million and the annual operating budget is projected to range from eight to nine million dollars if current valuations hold. Local suppliers will be utilized when possible for labor, consumables and materials.
The facility will carry what the presentation described as a “large potential for growth,” and will have only “minimal impact” to the county’s fire and rescue resources. Utilities already are in place.
Economic benefits cited in the presentation were additional tax revenues for the county and the state, local purchase of materials when feasible, use of local sub-contractors when possible, and engagement of general construction contractors having “specific military experience.”
The facility will have 22 full-time employment positions and will budget $900,000 a year for salaries. There will also be 60 part-time positions that include scenario role players, part-time on call instructors, mechanics, food service workers, facility support employees, IT support and administrative personnel.
Environmental impacts were addressed in the presentation and the public learned that the training facility will be “minimally intrusive to the environment,” with approximately one-third of the acreage utilized for instructional purposes.
Lead containment and best practices that go beyond the minimum required will be utilized, as will training range noise abatement and reduction measures, minimized night fire and mufflers installed on all training vehicles.
The establishment has promised “continuous environment protection of Westmoreland County. The large tract’s timber management plan will be continued and expanded and a wildlife management plan will be coordinated with state and local authorities. The facility will additionally coordinate and cooperate with local hunt clubs and concerned or interested citizens.
Safety was addressed and citizens learned on Monday night that the new training facility will make Westmoreland County “a safer place. Local responders [will] use [the] facility for training at no cost,” a teen driving program will offer four classes each year and the establishment will hire off-duty local law enforcement employees to serve as role players.
Citizens received assurances that the establishment has a “history of safe training,” that there have been “no significant injuries to students at our training facility in Alton, Virginia” and that as many as 50 students were trained in the Alton facility in a single 12-month interval.
The final section of the December 12 presentation to local residents expressed the goal of the O’Gara Group to “be a good neighbor and economic partner to Westmoreland County and the Northern Neck.”
Work on the new facility is expected to begin in the upcoming weeds, with classes beginning as quickly as August or September. The empty 50,000-square foot industrial shell building will be transformed into a 125-occupant student dormitory, gymnasium, kitchen, dining facility, office and garage.
Proceeds from the sale will allow the local government to retire the public debt associated with creation of the industrial park and its industrial shell building’s construction.
Remaining proceeds from the sale can now be utilized by the local government to launch the long-awaited industrial development initiative in the Washington District sewer’s service area.