Temporary maritime facility opens in W.Va.

August 09, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

KEARNEYSVILLE, W.VA. - A temporary location for a new U.S. Coast Guard facility in Jefferson County has opened its doors, U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd said Tuesday.

The temporary facility opened this week and is gearing up for its first workers, according to Byrd and Jane Peters, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority.

Byrd, D-W.Va., announced last year that the U.S. Coast Guard planned to centralize its Mariner Licensing and Documentation program with its National Maritime Center, an operation that would be moved to the Eastern Panhandle.

Byrd has said at least 58,000 square feet will be needed for the new facility and that officials were searching for a site.


Peters said she is not sure if a site has been found.

In the meantime, the facility will be moved into the temporary location.

For the temporary location, the U.S. Coast Guard agreed to lease space in a two-story office building in the Burr Industrial Park near T.A. Lowery Elementary School, and work has been under way to prepare the building for the Coast Guard, officials said.

About 50 people are expected to begin working at the temporary facility by October, Byrd said Tuesday.

"This is great news for the Coast Guard and for the Eastern Panhandle," Byrd said in a release. "The Eastern Panhandle may be miles away from the ocean's edge, but the region has become a critical component of the United States Coast Guard."

Byrd has said he and a Coast Guard official have been discussing ways to consolidate mariner licensing services in the Eastern Panhandle area.

The program is currently run through 17 regional examination centers in the country, Byrd said.

The Coast Guard will maintain a "storefront operation" in those locations, but key functions will be moved to the new facility, which is expected to create 250 new jobs by 2008, Byrd has said.

The National Maritime Center, a Coast Guard filed unit in Arlington, Va., works on new and innovative ways to assist the maritime community in using services of the Coast Guard, according to a Coast Guard Web site.

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