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Georgia federal training center said to benefit community 
"I don't see any negatives," says Chamber of Commerce president

By JACK SHAUM Special from The Bay Times
Friday, January 29, 2010,  Wed Jan 27, 2010. 

BRUNSWICK, Ga.  Since 1975, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center has been operating near this Georgia coastal city and the head of the local Chamber of Commerce said it has been a good neighbor and good for the local economy.

"We love it as a community," said Woody Woodside, president of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce. He said studies have shown that the center is a positive presence that generates about $600 million a year for three counties in the vicinity through jobs and spending in the local community.

The center, also known as FLETC, is an "interagency law enforcement training organization for almost 90 federal agencies," its Web site states. It also provides law enforcement training to state, local, and international law enforcement agencies.

"We've never had a noise factor. We've had very few complaints," Woodside said.

In Queen Anne's County, there has been opposition to plans of the federal General Services Administration and State Department to build a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center in Ruthsburg to consolidate training facilities from around the country.

The site, on 2,050 acres near State Routes 304 and 481, would include indoor and outdoor firing ranges, an explosives range, and weapons and explosive storage, among other elements.

Like the proposed Queen Anne's facility, FLETC is a consolidation of sites that had been located around the country. According to its Web site, it was to have originally been located in the Washington, D.C. area, but Congress ultimately decided that surplus federal land elsewhere be considered.

The land decided on is in Glynn County, Ga., about five miles from the seaport city of Brunswick, located near St. Simon's Island. Brunswick is a city of about 16,200 residents.

The site once housed the Glynco Naval Air Station. The center began training personnel at that location in September 1975. It was originally a function of the U.S. Treasury Department but is now part of the Department of Homeland Security. It also has a facility in Cheltenham in Prince George's County, Md.

Woodside said FLETC employs about 2,000 people and may handle as many as 25,000 trainees a year.

At the request of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the General Services Administration has agreed to extend the public comment period on the proposed Ruthsburg facility to Feb. 19 and will hold two more public meetings prior to Feb. 19. The public comment period was to have ended Jan. 15.

The agency also has promised to have its staff address specifics of the project and arrange for area residents to tour other similar facilities.

"I don't know how you all can turn that to a bad idea. I don't see any negatives," said Woodside.

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