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A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wolf announces funding OK’d for area FBI facility; B1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WINCHESTER — It’s a done deal. The FBI is coming to Frederick County.

Federal funding to relocate all FBI records to a new facility outside Winchester has cleared its last hurdle in Congress, paving the way for site selection to begin for the building, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, an-nounced Tuesday.

“The new facility is coming,” he said. “This is now a reality.”

The last round of preliminary funding for the project cleared the House of Representatives on Nov. 9 in a conference re-port that funds agencies such as NASA, as well as the Com-merce, Justice and State de-partments.

Wolf is the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the agencies funded by the bill.

It cleared the Senate last week, and President Bush signed the legislation late Tuesday afternoon.

Once that happens, the General Services Administration will select a site for the building, and appropriations for construction and operation of the project will be automatically included in future federal budgets, Wolf said.

Congress has already set aside some $29 million for the project over the past three years.

When completed, the project will join two other FBI facilities in Winchester and Frederick County. The agency will operate a recruitment site on North Braddock Street in Winchester and a training facility in an industrial park on Tasker Road later this year.

The Winchester area beat out a number of other regions for the new, 900,000-square-foot facility, including Harrisonburg and locations in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“Easy access to I-81 and I-66, less than a two-hour drive from the bureau’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.,” Wolf said. “Also, the potential work force you have in this region.”

At present, the bureau stores files at more than 250 facilities around the country.

“The volume of these paper files stacked up like dominoes would be roughly 148 miles long,” he said. The new site will put all files under one roof, under the care of archive specialists, who will also be charged with digitizing records.

Storage standards across the agency aren’t uniform at present, but federal law requires all records be handled in accordance with federal archive standards by the end of the decade.

It also frees up much needed and very expensive office space at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington.
“They really need that space,” Wolf said.

The new facility will employ about 1,000 people when it begins operations in 2010. It will be about half the size of the FBI’s Washington headquarters.

The need for so many trained employees is one reason the agency decided on Winchester, which offers a skilled work force, plus a student body at Shenandoah University from which to recruit.

“Many of the people that work downtown will relocate out here, but I suspect many of them will not, so it’s a win-win for everybody,” Wolf said.

“I think the people of Frederick County are really going to like them,” he said. “And the FBI is really going to like the Shenandoah Valley.”