Residents Question Commissioners On Possible State Department Training Site In QAC

A Centreville resident criticized the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners about the process in which two federal agencies are considering the purchase of 1,505 acres from a private property owner in Ruthsburg to build a large training center for U.S. State Department security personnel. Sveinn Storm said at the October 13 county commissioners’ meeting that citizens did not know about a site visit at the Hunt Ray Farm property on September 1. The visit included federal and state officials and county staff. He said the business of the people should be conducted in front of the people. He said there has been a long list of government officials who came out in support of the project before Queen Anne’s County citizens knew anything about it.

County Commission President Gene Ransom agreed to one request by Storm that the county put out an information sheet listing facts about the State Department’s proposed project and the Ruthsburg site being considered for it. Storm said a public meeting should be held on the proposed project, which the commissioners have offered to do in conjunction with the State Department. The commissioners wrote a September 8 letter to Stephen Mergens, executive director for diplomatic security at the State Department, offering to have county staff assist the State Department in holding a meeting.

Ransom said that he thinks county officials have followed the proper procedure in keeping citizens informed of the project, but the focus now should be on how to keep people better informed. Ransom said the commissioners have given conditional support for the project because they support the idea of bringing jobs to the county. Also present at the October 13 meeting was Tyler Patton, an aide to Congressman Frank Kratovil, D-Md.-1st, who said Kratovil sent a letter of support for the project at the request of the county commissioners. County Commissioner Eric Wargotz asked Patton to have Kratovil urge the GSA to hold a public hearing about the project. Wargotz said the concerns of the local citizens have not been addressed by the decision makers. The commissioners said they didn’t find out about the proposed project until mid- to late August, explaining the State Department was dealing with a private landowner, not the county directly.