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Proposal for NC-based Blackwater divides California town

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POTRERO, Calif. (AP) -- A proposal by Blackwater Worldwide has divided residents of a California mountain village into those who want the firm to build a firing range there and those who do not. The issue has become so controversial that voters on Tuesday are set to consider removing from office five members of the advisory planning board that endorsed Blackwater's plans. North Carolina-based Blackwater wants to turn an 800-acre former chicken farm into a training camp for law enforcement officers. The facility would include 11 firing ranges, a driving track and a helipad. Opposition to the plan intensified in September after Blackwater guards were investigated in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. Gordon Hammers is the 70-year-old chairman of the planning board and chief target of the recall. He believes Blackwater can bring development to turn Potrero into a middle-class town. (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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