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Space port may be in future
WOODBINE -- The Camden County Commission wants to show it is in the race to bring a space port to the county.

Commissioners voted, 5-0, Tuesday to hire Holland & Knight, a Washington, D.C.,-based consulting firm, to represent the county with real estate, environmental counseling and government affairs services to help convince Space X that Camden County is the best location among three finalists to build a commercial space port.

"I think we're going in the right direction to give this a chance to be a reality," Commissioner Gary Blount said. "It's encouraging."

The consultant will review and analyze an environmental impact statement and comments from interested parties, assist the Camden County Joint Development Authority in negotiations to acquire land for the launch facility, off-site launch control and viewing facility from the current owners, Union Carbide and Bayer CropScience.

The consultant will also evaluate options for the off-site facility, analyze and evaluate options regarding acquisition and construction financing, determine off-site easements needed and address any political or administrative concerns or issues with the Federal Aviation Administration, Navy, Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers and other state and federal agencies.

The consultant will work with state and federal officials for funding.

The site being considered was once a rocket engine testing facility for NASA, with many features that supporters believe make it the ideal location. A site in Texas and another in Florida are also in the running for the facility.

"I think it will be a good signal to the state that we are serious about it," County Administrator Steve Howard said.

In other matters, commissioners approved a request by the Camden County Sheriff's Office to expand a firing range for law enforcement officials near the county landfill on the west side of the county.

Sheriff Jim Proctor said it's possible part of the range could be open to the public, for a fee, to help pay for the expansion.

Proctor said the range will be used by law enforcement agencies in surrounding counties, as well as Naval Criminal Investigative Services and the Coast Guard. He also envisions classrooms and firearms safety programs at the site. "I think it will be an awesome thing," he said.

Commissioners approved unanimously a new agreement that would keep 911 dispatch services under the control of the sheriff's office.

They also approved unanimously the renewal of agreement with the city of St. Marys and the county Public Service Authority for health clinic services that have saved government offices money in health care costs.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 464-7655.



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