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In Eastern Panhandle, Byrd's reach was wide

June 29, 2010

Editor's note: The following information was supplied on request to The Herald-Mail by Sen. Robert C. Byrd's office staff following his death Monday at the age of 92.

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Sen. Robert C. Byrd devoted significant time and energy toward attracting federal back-office operations to West Virginia as a means to provide well-paying, stable employment to the state and to provide the federal government with low-cost, quality operations.

As a result of these efforts, more than 10 federal operations have relocated to the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, which includes Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.

In total, these agencies support nearly 3,600 federal and contractor personnel and represent a nearly $360 million annual infusion into West Virginia's economy for general operations, according to information provided to The Herald-Mail.

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These figures do not account for the numerous private sector firms that have also come to the state to conduct business with these federal facilities, thereby creating even more jobs and opportunities.

The following are the federal entities that Sen. Byrd has helped to bring to the Eastern Panhandle, according to his office:

o The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Advanced Training Center in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.: Approximately 100 federal and contractor employees

o The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Computing Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.: Approximately 1,180 federal and contractor employees

o The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Facility in Martinsburg: Approximately 650 federal and contractor employees

o The Coast Guard Operations Systems Center in Kearneysville: Approximately 550 federal and contractor employees

o The Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center in Falling Waters: Approximately 100 employees

o The Coast Guard National Maritime Center in Martinsburg: Approximately 400 federal and contractor employees

o The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown: Approximately 100 employees

o The U.S. Forest Service Leetown Science Center: Approx. 95 employees

o The Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville: Approximately 70 employees

o The ARS National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture in Leetown: Approximately 35 employees

Veterans Administration Initiatives: Through the appropriations process, Sen. Byrd has been responsible for major renovations of, and additions to, each of the four Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC) in West Virginia -- Huntington (including the $51 million Robert C. Byrd clinical addition and the $10 million research addition); Clarksburg (including the $26 million clinical addition); Beckley (including the $20 million clinical addition, the $100,000 for acquisition of 13 acres of adjacent land for a future nursing home, and the $1 million new access road); and Martinsburg (including the $5 million laundry replacement project.)

Further, Sen. Byrd secured the funds for the $76 million replacement (by new construction) of the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

National Guard military construction and defense initiatives: Through the military construction and DOD accounts, Sen. Byrd has been able to ensure that the West Virginia National Guard has the adequate facilities and resources to do its job across the state and in defending the homeland, according to his office.

He has secured funding for the construction of new Armed Forces Reserve Centers; Maintenance Facilities; and Readiness Centers throughout the state; ensured the aging fleet of helicopters in the West Virginia Army National Guard would be replaced with the new UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters; made significant investments at both the Charleston and Martinsburg Air National Guard Bases; funded the construction of the Regional Training Institute and other major improvements at Camp Dawson, and has supported the operations of the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center and the West Virginia Counterdrug program.

For the Martinsburg area, Byrd helped to secure a decision from the U.S. Department of Air Force to convert the 167th Airlift Wing from a C-130 unit to a C-5 unit, and helped to secure approximately $280 million to upgrade the infrastructure at the 167th Airlift Wing so that it could accommodate the larger C-5 aircraft, according to his office.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park: Sen. Byrd's efforts to restore facilities, enhance visitor opportunities, and expand the reaches at the National Park Service's (NPS) Harpers Ferry National Historical Park started nearly 50 years ago. Through these long-term efforts involving earmarks:

o Nearly all of the major historic structures have been restored and can now be toured by the public

o Museums and special exhibits are being developed to better share the story of Harpers Ferry

o The new visitors center and the bus system keeps the park pristine and free of congestion

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