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Blackwater Meeting Reveals New Projects

Hampton Roads News Channel (2007-10-28) Stacy Davis

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October 28, 2007

WTKR Your News Channel 3, VA

Blackwater Meeting Reveals New Projects

Moyock, North Carolina

We're learning more about what went on a community meeting we were booted from at Blackwater USA Thursday night.

Our reporter Ted Alexander was turned away at the security company's Moyock headquarters.

Several other people who work and live in the area were also turned away because they didn't live in the neighborhoods next door to Blackwater.

Blackwater ran a small ad in the community papers but say next time they'll do a better job getting word out about the meeting.

Today we talked to as many folks who did get in as we could to get the scoop on the meeting. It was an informational meeting that Blackwater President Gary Jackson holds twice a year. He wants to know if folks have any complaints and how Blackwater can fix them. He also wants to give updates on what's going on at their sprawling 7,000 compound.

He did not talk about the national scrutiny of the company's security work in Iraq.

Instead, noise and traffic were big topics.

Jackson helped quiet some of the noise complaints by confirming that the company has withdrawn a request to use their firing ranges past 10 p.m. Virginia Beach police and several military organizations regularly use the ranges for training.

He also talked about a possible solution to all the traffic that drives down the narrow Puddin Ridge road to their gate. He hinted that if the Navy builds an outlying landing field on the site near Blackwater it could open the door to a new access road for the compound.

The site is one of about 20 the Navy is looking at in both North Carolina and Virginia, but several attendees told us Jackson hinted that it was one the Navy's #1 choice. It's remote, with few homes in the area.

For years, Blackwater has bee trying to buy an easement to pave a road into Blackwater off Southmills Road. If the Navy bought up the land for the jet field, Jackson indicated it might be easier to get that easement.

The Navy won't release their narrowed list of favorites until next month.

Jackson also hinted at his hopes for future projects for the company.

One, a lighter-than-air balloon that could be mounted with cameras and used for surveillance for the Department of Homeland Security or for border control. The company already has one built on the property at Blackwater and was going to try to test it out in Elizabeth City on Friday.

Secondly, Blackwater has its fingers crossed for the Grizzly. It's an armored personnel carrier that Blackwater designed for its contractors in Iraq and was born out of their experiences there with roadside bombs. The company wants to win a contract to build for at least one-thousand of them.

They have a building on their property in Camden County where they've made prototypes. And if they win a contract for more, Jackson hinted that the company could look at the now-abandoned Ford plant in Norfolk. Ford stopped building the F-150 there this year.

On Thursday night, several audience members at the meeting confirmed that Jackson said if they win a huge contract ,'"We're going to Norfolk." A Blackwater spokeswoman did return our call on Friday.

We called Ford and the company said it wouldn't comment on anything about the plant until the sale is final.

Blackwater is not the only company vying to build a super-armored vehicle. They are competing against defense contractor giants like General Dynamics and BAE systems. Blackwater told the audience, it could learn if they win the contract by December.

WTKR Your News Channel 3, VA

Secrecy Surrounds Blackwater Forum

About fifty people responded to an ad for the community meeting at Blackwater Thursday night.

They learned about it from small ads in the community paper and in fact, it is something the security company holds for its neighbors twice a year.

You have to call to register. We tried and got a disconnected number which, as it turns out, was misprinted by the newspaper. We went anyway and our cameras never got in.

Blackwater claimed to have seats for 300 people, but some residents we spoke with said only 40 to 50 people were there. We weren't the only ones who were turned away. One man from Edenton who owns a business in Moyock was refused entry because he isn't a resident.

We can't help but wonder, if there was room for 300 people, why were people turned away?

We have a crew investigating this and answering questions. We will have more for you tonight starting at 5:00.

Media Form edit

Title Blackwater Meeting Reveals New Projects
Publisher Hampton Roads News Channel
Author Stacy Davis
Pub Date 2007-10-28
Media Link
Note Confirms extended firing range hours abandoned; hoping to win contract for Grizzly.
Keywords Blackwater
Media Type Linked Article
Author Name Sortable
Topic revision: r1 - 2007-10-29, RaymondLutz
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