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Posts Tagged ‘AL’

FL-TesttrackI’m talking about Florida and the Big Cypress Swamp.

To be more specific the address is: Harley-Davidson, 5301 34th Ave. S.E., Naples, FL., a 531-acre private test track north of Interstate 75/Alligator Alley.  The facility has a 2.1-mile straight away and a 1.1-mile ride-and-handling loop.

FL-Track-HeloPrior to 2002, the test track was owned and used by Ford Motor Company.  In October 2009, Harley-Davidson announced plans to consolidate its test operations in Florida and Talladega, AL. sites to the Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, AZ.  There were approximately 8 employees and as many contract employees at the Florida facility at the time.

Earlier this month, the automaker Chrysler Group LLC announced they purchased the property for $7 million with plans to use the more than six miles of tracks to test a wide range of pre-production vehicles.

FL-Track-BldsHarley-Davidson Motor Co., agreed to lease back a portion of the track to test motorcycles and other specialty vehicles along with 10,200 square feet within two buildings on the property. That lease will last through at least June 30, 2019.

Construction of the track and its associated buildings began in 1985 and ended in 1992.  In 1998 the test track was the subject of a lot of scrutiny when nearby property owners and environmentalist became concerned about expansion that would harm the neighborhood.

Photos courtesy of Google and Collier International.

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Arial View of H-D Arizona Proving Grounds (Yucca)

The motor company delivers on its promise.

Not a new innovative motorcycle model, but to consolidate testing operations into one single location in Arizona – called the Arizona Proving Ground (AZPG).

Reports out of Kingman, AZ indicate that a local contractor (T.R. Orr, Inc.), received two building permits from the county Development Services Department, one for commercial renovation at the proving grounds and another for the construction of a brand new industrial plant.

You may recall that H-D moved into the Chrysler Proving Grounds at Yucca less than a year ago after it was booted from the General Motors proving grounds in Mesa, which had been closed and sold off the previous year.  The motorcycle company is shuttering testing operations in Talladega, Ala., as well as Naples, Fla., as they are in the process of moving those operations to AZPG through 2011.  I’ve previously reported as far back as 2008 on H-D plans of AZPG HERE and HERE.

According to H-D spokeswoman Pat Sweeney, the changes being made to the existing facilities and the new industrial plant will not only provide H-D the space and equipment it needs to make the most use of the proving grounds it will also – and are you ready for the “E” word – improve its efficiency.  Details on the cost of the new industrial plant or the need for any new employees from the local workforce were – incomplete – as Ms. Sweeney cited an obvious benefit to the community just because we’re consolidating there, but “we’re just still not really sure at his point in time” when referring to hiring plans.  I anticipate they offered folks in the shuttered operations an opportunity to move to AZ and are waiting on the final acceptance ratio before opening job req’s.

And speaking of jobs… the nearby and sprawling Arizona State Prison, Cerbat Facility (20 buildings on 45 acres) was a 2,000-bed minimum custody facility that just completed a major renovation and expansion into 3,400 beds.  I see an inmate labor force expansion in the near future and it couldn’t come at a better time according to local reports.

Photo courtesy of Chrysler

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HDS MemorialSelfless courage at the moment of truth…

All bomb technicians in America go through the Redstone school, which is the only one of its kind in the U.S.; there is another similar school in England.  Located on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL the school is a joint Army-FBI effort which has been involved in training members of the 468 law enforcement bomb squads across the nation.

Why is this relevant?  A couple of years ago I attended a reunion from when I was stationed on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.  The reunion was held just down the street from the Redstone Arsenal.  I was able to tour several of the military facilities and remember the heat/humidity.  But, I’ve digressed.

The bomb disposal community is an elite and tightknit group.  They even have a special badge the technicians wear which symbolizes the closeness.  This week William Robert Hakim, a senior trooper with the OSP was honored at an annual memorial ceremony held by the Army-FBI Hazardous Devices School (HDS) where his name was added to the memorial wall.

Mr. Hakim, an eleven year veteran was killed in the line of duty a year ago when an explosive device detonated at West Coast Bank in Woodburn, OR.  The blast killed Hakim and Woodburn Police Captain Tom Tennant.  It also critically injured Police Chief Scott Russell.  Mr. Hakim was a graduate of the HDS school and taught other law enforcement officers about arson and bomb investigations.

Within a couple of days, Mr. Joshua Abrahm Turnidge (32) and his father, Bruce Turnidge (57) were arrested.  You can view the probable cause document which outlines the case against them HERE.  It’s an interesting read if for nothing else than the chronology of the events which led the arrests.  Evidence at the fathers property found Tovex, a highly-explosive gel which is routinely substituted for dynamite.  Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.  The trial is expected to start September 2010.

A bomb explosion and the severity of the crimes in Oregon stunned many.  I wanted to remember Mr. Hakim on this one-year anniversary.  My condolences to his family.  Mr. Hakim is survived by his wife, Terri, and their 19 year old daughter and 17 year old son who attended the ceremony.

Photo courtesy of the HDS Memorial

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