DHS, KSU working on land transfer

By Corene Brisendine

A top KSU official told leaders of local governments Monday that while there is little NBAF-related activity going on in the open right now, plenty is going on behind the scenes.

Ron Trewyn, the university’s vice president for research, said the funding has been settled with the Department of Homeland Security providing $40 million, an amount to be matched by the state of Kansas. The government has also authorized $105 million in bonds for the project. The hitch with the release of the funding is the ownership of the land. It is currently owned by Kansas State University. Once the title is transferred to DHS, the $40 million will be released to continue construction on the central power station.

Trewyn said the original title transfer company for DHS is now working with the university to complete the transfer. He said that should take about six weeks. Trewyn said Janet Napolitano, DHS secretary, had formed a “SWAT team” comprising the “major players” to advance the NBAF project.

Napolitano named her deputy chief of staff as DHS representative to the team, which also includes Landon Fulmer, representing Gov. Sam Brownback; Eric Schmutz, chief of staff to Rep. Lynn Jenkins, representing the House; Sen. Pat Roberts representing the Senate and Trewyn representing K-State. Since the creation of that committee, Trewyn said they have had several conference calls discussing the next step in development and construction.

Trewyn also said K-State has been given the task of building a new feed mill. He said he is amazed at the progress of the construction of the mill in the past two weeks. DHS has given the university until September 2013 to have the new mill up and the old one taken down. Trewyn said he was confident the university would make that deadline.

Trewyn said the contracts for security, construction and others will be extended in the coming weeks even though construction has not begun. He said he is confident that will all change soon with the transfer of the title to DHS.

Trewyn also told city and county leaders that he had attended a conference of the U.S. Animal Heath Association and American Assoc. of Vet. Lab Diagnosticians in Greensboro, N.C. He said the two groups passed a resolution that requested the federal government “allow full construction of NBAF to move forward.”

“They are very concerned about NBAF not moving forward,” Trewyn said. “So, we are starting to see more of the national groups come out and support, recognizing that (the current Level 3 lab on Plum Island) is not a viable option.”

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