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Conference studies homeland security

July 24, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

SUMMIT POINT, W.VA. - The focus switched from solar- and wind-powered generators to simulated terrorist attacks and squealing tires.

Government officials and business executives on a 2 1/2-day mission in West Virginia to explore new homeland security initiatives moved to the Summit Point Raceway on Monday to learn about antiterrorism training.

This week's conference hosted by Discover the REAL West Virginia Foundation is designed to lure more private companies involved in homeland security to West Virginia.

Led in part by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the conference started Sunday in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and participants on the trip were expected to travel to Morgantown, W.Va., Clarksburg, W.Va. and Fairmont, W.Va., to learn about other security-related industry in the state.

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Some participants in the mission have built high-security facilities in other states, and officials with at least one of the companies said Sunday they are considering expanding in West Virginia.

Summit Point Raceway, a car racing track, in recent years has expanded into antiterrorism training through an organization known as BSR.

Recognized internationally for its work, BSR has a predominant share of the federal government's business and its clients include White House agencies, the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI, according to the organization.

Rockefeller said Monday morning at the track that there needs to be more private sector investment in homeland security.

Although a $5.6 trillion surplus was generated during the Clinton administration, nothing was done to address known threats from Osama bin Laden, Rockefeller said.

Now the money is gone and "we are really in a pickle right now," Rockefeller said.

"We have plenty of al-Qaida in our own country," Rockefeller said. "You got to help save this country, my friends," Rockefeller told business executives.

Summit Point Automotive Research Center, the parent company of BSR, has been moving ahead with its antiterrorism programs.

The facility has designated another 270 acres at its site for such training, and two clients have agreed to build facilities there.

One of the new facilities will be a tactical training center for the U.S. Department of State, and the other is a facility that will be known as the Homeland Training Corp., officials for the projects said.

Both facilities will use the track for driver training and both will offer indoor shooting ranges and a gymnasium at their respective facilities, spokespersons with the projects said.

The Homeland Training Corp. will have a 200-room facility that "amounts to a hotel" and a full-service kitchen, said Doctor Krants, spokesman for the project.

Ground has not been broken for either project since county approvals are pending for both, officials said Monday.

Federal government agents assigned to protecting officials like U.S. ambassadors and attachs need specialized driver training to protect the officials.

At the local track Monday morning, participants in this week's mission were invited to climb inside training cars to see firsthand how the training is offered.

Specially trained instructors raced the cars at high speeds down the track and tires squealed as drivers made it through turns and other obstacles.

Drivers also conducted mock scenarios where a terrorist in a car attempted to pull up behind another car.

To prevent an attack by the terrorist, the driver in the victim's car demonstrated a maneuver that forced the terrorist's vehicle out of the way.

"It's one of a kind," Krants said of the antiterrorism training.

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