[Admin/Editor’s note: To find out whether anything good could come out of Blackwater North’s establishment in Jo Daviess county, CityBarbs investigator treesfieldssky talked to residents in North Carolina who live near Blackwater USA’s facility in that state.]
The neighbors are not allowed onto the Blackwater property. One resident said her mother, over 80, accidentally drove up to the gate. They made her get out of the car and searched the vehicle. Even Mennonites aren’t trusted by this large and powerful military firm. It was also reported that a local Mennonite carpet cleaner got lost, drove up to Blackwater’s gate. He said they drew guns on him and screamed profanity.
It appears that Blackwater USA is not the “good neighbors” they claim to be nor are they good citizens. According to sources who want to remain anonymous and who live in the vicinity of Blackwater USA’s headquarters in North Carolina, “They [Blackwater] don’t take “no” for an answer.”
Local Moyock citizens say that Blackwater just goes around any hurdle put in their way. When asked to perform some studies before a permit is issued they just refuse. This multimillion dollar company claims the expense as a rationale for putting off the testing. After a special use is granted they only do the very minimum. “They do only what’s required by law, no more.”
Another example with how Blackwater handles permit issues is how they got around a very strong ordinance connected to Camden Country’s new “Growth Plan.” A resident reported, “Of 18 or so requirements, Blackwater couldn’t meet 15.” They were still granted the permit despite their inability to meet all the requirements.
According to these locals Blackwater started with about seven people and now “it’s a city.” Right now they are training some Jordanians. “They have many other international clients.”
On the subject of placating neighbors the resident had this to say, “Neighbors objected about a new strobe lighting that was on all night. It shined right into neighbors’s houses. It has been off now for a week. They promised to use it only for night flights.”
Many residents have felt the trainees who come into town are rude. “Just plain arrogant,” said one resident in describing their manner.
The Moyock resident doesn’t mince words when it comes to Blackwater and local taxes.
“Blackwater doesn’t do s**t for paying taxes. Residential land use [one home per ten acres] would bring in far more revenue. They tear the road up something fierce. It’s not worth it to the county.”
Blackwater also has not helped out the local job market. Some custodial work and a mentally handicapped son of one of the county commissioners was hired to help mow lawn.
Back home here in Illinois since my visit a Jo Daviess resident reported today that the gate is now closed and chain locked. They have also posted a sign the prohibits the taking of photos. The sign also threatens that if anyone tries to take pictures their camera and cell phone will be confiscated.
Since my visit I’ve received an answer to my Freedom of Information request from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. On their permit application Blackwater USA wrote in describing the construction project, “Improvement to existing shooting range.” As I reported that on my visit the Vice Deputy reported that they had spent half a million dollars in just moving earth and that they were putting in four additional ranges.
Blackwater North’s neighbors may want to talk with Moyock North Carolina residents before they give Blackwater whatever they ask. Of course Blackwater’s history shows that they seldom ask but usually take, even when told “no.”