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Coast Guard project could add 140 jobs in W.Va.

August 20, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A consolidation of U.S. Coast Guard computer centers could increase the number of jobs at the Operations Systems Center by 140 in the next few years, according to the center's commanding officer.

"There's a government-wide initiative to consolidate computer centers," Capt. Bill Ashforth said Tuesday. He said the Coast Guard plans to consolidate much of its computer operations at the Liberty Business Park center over the next five years.

Monday night the Berkeley County Planning Commission reviewed a preliminary plan for the three-story, 74,000-square-foot addition to the center. Ashforth said groundbreaking on the addition, which is actually larger than the existing center at the park, could be held later this fall, perhaps in November.

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The building, which he said would cost between $7 million and $8 million, should be completed by the fall of 1998. Once the consolidation process is completed, staffing at the center could increase from the current 183 to about 320.

"We currently list five data centers. We'll probably end up with two or three," according to Ashforth. On Aug. 8, the Coast Guard's Electronic Engineering Center in Wildwood, N.J., closed and Ashforth said the personnel from there have been brought to the Martinsburg center.

Two more data centers could end up at the business park with some smaller computer operations also being relocated there.

As with the existing center, the addition will be a private project by Panhandle Venture II of Shepherdstown. The company will build the addition and the General Services Administration will rent it for the Coast Guard. Callas Inc. of Hagerstown is the construction contractor.

"We continue to get remarkable help from Senator Byrd's office," Ashforth said of Robert C. Byrd, the state's senior senator. He noted that Byrd was the prime mover in getting the center located in West Virginia six years ago.

"The Operations Systems Center is considered the Coast Guard's premier data center, responsible for maintaining software and data for important programs including the Coast Guard Law Enforcement System, Computer Assisted Search Planning, and the Marine Safety Information System," Byrd said in a press release.

In addition to the Coast Guard, the Internal Revenue Service has three buildings at the Liberty Business Park and a fourth under construction.

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