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Coast Guard adds big new annex

April 07, 1999

Coast Guard AnnexBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photos: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Coast Guard on Tuesday unveiled a $9 million addition to its computing center in Berkeley County that is more than twice the size of the original facility.

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Opened in 1991, the Operations Systems Center quickly outgrew its 37,000-square-foot building, resulting in some employees being moved to the former WYVN television studio off Tuscarora Pike, officials said.

The 73,542-square-foot addition includes 74 offices, a 250-seat auditorium, a 60-seat luchroom, nine conference rooms and an exercise room.

Attending Tuesday's dedication were U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va., and William Ashforth, commander of the facility.

"Who would have ever thought that the Coast Guard would have settled here in the mountains of West Virginia?" Byrd said.

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Wise said the annex illustrates "what I call the new West Virginia," which is seeing considerable growth in high-tech jobs.

Coast Guard tourThe center operates more than 30 computer systems that track worldwide ship traffic and coordinate drug interdiction efforts and search and rescue at sea.

When TWA Flight 800 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean after takeoff from New York in 1996, the center put together computerized search patterns to help find and retrieve the wreckage.

The center, in Liberty Business Park off W.Va. 9, is expected to eventually consolidate 51 Coast Guard computer operations, including those in Baltimore, Topeka, Kan., and Elizabeth City, N.C., officials said.

The expanded facility is big enough for the center's 272 employees with room for expansion, officials said.

Ken Lowe, developer of the Liberty Business Park, said he is leasing the building to the Coast Guard for about $22 per square foot. A similar lease in Washington, D.C., would cost about $40 per square foot, he said.

And there's no charge for parking at Liberty Business Park, Lowe said. "That's why people love it here," he said.

Lowe, along with partner William Allaun of Virginia, hired Callas Contractors of Hagerstown to build the annex.

The Coast Guard had a 15-year lease with Lowe on the first building. When the annex was completed, a new lease was signed on the entire facility, Lowe said.

The Coast Guard shares the business park with three Internal Revenue Service operations.

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