NRAO receives community service award
Green Bank, W.Va. –
A distinguished scientist visited Green Bank last Wednesday to present a community service award to the NRAO operations team for their help with recovery efforts following the June 29 derecho. NRAO site director Karen O’Neill accepted a plaque on behalf of her team from Ethan Shreier, president of Associated Universities, Inc.
Shreier says Green Bank is a model of good community relations for AUI facilities around the world.
“Even though our facilities are national/international in scope, the sites themselves are located in communities like this and we try to be part of that,” he said. “Green Bank has always been the exemplar of this working closely and supportively with its neighboring community. Ever since AUI chose this location as the site of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, there’s been very close interactions between observatory staff and the community.”
NRAO director Anthony Beasley describes some of the help that NRAO provided.
“The NRAO telescope operator was kind of the emergency communication link with 911,” he said. ” We were recharging emergency services. We provided breakfast for people. We opened the resident halls to our residents in the nearby areas, who were maybe having some medical distress and problems. Our refrigeration systems were used to support medical supplies and so on. Site drinking water was used throughout the disaster. Rooms for National Guard. There were lots of NRAO employees who volunteered, in their respective agencies, to help across the community. The bunkhouse provided a residency opportunity to shower, wash clothes and cool off. The cafe served food and we had air-conditioned space and so on, So, this was really kind of a very significant effort that was made by the observatory.”
Shreier presented a $5,000 donation from Associated Universities to the Bartow-Frank-Durbin Fire Department. Fire chief Buster Varner, rescue chief Janet Ghigo and deputy chief John Ford accepted the donation.
State delegate Bill Hartman recites another example of the observatory’s emergency response.
“Two or three years ago, in the wintertime, a helicopter crashed,” he said. “People isolated – up on the mountain. Green Bank was the key in the rescue of those folks.”
State delegate Denise Campbell says feuding stops in The Mountain State when a disaster strikes.
“We have a lot of backbiting and all that, but when a disaster happens, the people of West Virginia come together and help each other and I think that’s something to be very proud of,” she said.