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Letter: Green Bank Observatory thanks West Virginians for support (Gazette)

Green Bank Observatory thanks West Virginians for support

Editor:

Several weeks ago, the National Science Foundation announced that it would begin receiving comments for an environmental impact statement scoping process regarding the future of the Green Bank Observatory. Additionally, the NSF set aside two meeting times to allow the public to personally express its opinions on the options provided.

The five options provided ran the gamut from “No Action” to closing the facility, deconstructing it and returning the land to its original condition.

In response, hundreds of people showed up at the GBO Science Center to listen and to speak. Hundreds more took the time out of their busy schedules, over the Thanksgiving holiday, to sit down and write letters and emails to the NSF. From everything we know, the responses were overwhelmingly FOR keeping the observatory funded. For this, we can’t thank people enough.

More importantly, however, is the overriding realization that West Virginians feel the way we do about this facility and its importance to the state and to the world through the basic research we do. As the premier radio astronomy facility in the state, housing the largest fully steerable telescope on the planet, we are pushing forward the frontiers of humankind’s knowledge of the universe, and West Virginians demonstrated through their efforts that this means as much to them as it does to us.

As a scientific research facility, we host almost 50,000 tourists every year. We host 3,500 school children through our educational programs. All told, we contribute almost $30 million to the economy. That might not sound like big numbers to some, but with a staff of about 100 people year-round and about 140 during the summer, that’s a lot of bang for the buck, and these numbers have a major effect on the communities we live in and the state as a whole.

Without the people of West Virginia, though, they would mean nothing. Without the people, our global mission would be fruitless. The stories of hope and life-changing experiences after visiting here or working here or reading about us have truly touched our hearts.

From all of us at the Green Bank Observatory, we THANK YOU, for your efforts on our behalf.

Karen O’Neil, director

Michael J. Holstine, business manager

Green Bank Observatory

Green Bank

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