LAKEVIEW, Oregon – A new ecomomy of MERCENARIES and PRISON
I spent much time in this tiny Eastern Oregon desert town. I have seen much change sweep over the town, but the newest "economic development" scam will change the landscape and the people forever. A new player in town is a mercenary training school. Along with the new prison, the town will likely be a new frontier in the emerging USA police state.
Lakeview Oregon is located on the California border about 100 miles east of Klamath Falls. It is a small town with little economic or cultural diversity. There are small communities of Native Americans, Hispanic forest workers, but mostly it's white folks who live there. The area is mostly treeless, (whole forests were decimated in the late 1800's and early 1900's). The natural deserted areas are absolutely beautiful. The town itself is billed as the "Tallest Town in Oregon" because of its elevation of 4,820 feet. Up until a few years ago most of the people who lived in Lakeview were ranchers, loggers, and isolationists: people trying to get away from the techno fast paced world.
I visited the town many times during my lifetime. Lakeview is full of my Irish immigrant relatives. I loved these visits. I loved to ride a horse across the wind swept desert, swim in the lakes and rivers, and work hard next to my cousins bucking hay or herding sheep. I learned much about surviving adversity from the refugees of the Irish Holocaust. In my childhood there was much racism and land grabbing against Native American communities. It was also a town where if you were white and poor you could start all over again and have a small bit of something. For some, if you were an insider, the struggle was not quite as hard as the outside world.
When I was a child there was still lots of water in Goose Lake: the namesake of the town. But almost a hundred years of deforestation and overusing water supplies to irrigate wide areas of field hay have drained most of the lake. There is little left of any economy and the local politicians are grabbing at anything they can to keep the town alive.
THE PLAN - ECONOMIC DARKNESS - prisons and mercenaries
Lakeview politicians have had plans before. In the fifties they encouraged the nuclear weapons industry to come mine the heavy veins of uranium. The mining companies came to town for a short time. They discovered the veins of Uranium were not that deep. They left town quickly leaving behind piles of uranium tailings that blew across the farmland and town contaminating everything. People in the town, including the children began to experience high levels of leukemia: cancer of the blood. The whole dirty story was hushed up. The towns people did not want to loose the summer tourist trade.
Now the powers that be have a new economic plan for this dying town. Prisons and mercenaries.
In the 1990's the governor of Oregon hatched a plan to build 6 new prisons in Oregon. Lakeview was chosen as one of the prisons sites. New people moved to town. People who worked for the Prison Industrial complex and outside construction companies. The project was touted as a boon to the city and the county. Towns people were told the prison would only house minimum-security prisoners and bring local jobs to the county. The towns people are not prepared for the onslaught of corporate prison guards or the families who will follow prisoners.
MERCENARIES COME TO TOWN
There were always people hiding in the outback that were just a little bit strange. My own relatives sought out this isolated area of the America to make a new start after experiencinng severe discrimation as Irish Immigrants. The towns people of Lakeview talked about them and kept their distance. Some of these people had been badly scared by society and just wanted to be left alone. It was a given. About 20 years ago small mercenary compounds began to appear in the desert of Lake County and in the Steens Mountains. There was even a compound to train mercenaries to fight in Afghanistan. These ventures were kept under wrap. Now, they are be touted as the next best thing to a gold strike. And the town welcomes the business.
Here's what the Associated Press wrote for newspapers across Oregon recently
"Smith, 55, and his wife, Heidi, 37, are relocating Thunder Ranch, their Texas-based tactical shooting school, to an 886-acre ranch in remote Lake County on the California border. It will open in February in a county with high unemployment and limited tourism.
In a more urban community, the influx of hundreds of gun-toting strangers might cause some concern. But Ray Simms, adviser to Lake County's Board of Commissioners, doubts it will cause undue alarm, especially during hunting season.
"Out here for the most part, every other pickup going down the road this time of year has a rifle in the window," he says.
The 11-year-old Thunder Ranch in Texas is the largest among dozens of tactical shooting schools across the nation, says firearms expert Roy Huntington of San Diego, editor of American Handgunner and Guns magazines and a longtime friend of the Smiths. " (The entire article can be seen at link to www.oregonlive.com
Mr. Smith is a major player in training Navy SEAL's, Delta Force Operators and assorted civilians (and hired killers of the School of the Americas). He is hoping to cash in on the new prison economy of Oregon. He has strong ties to Whackenhut - a major prison contractor in America. Here is another quote from the AP story about Smith:
"Smith is regarded as something of an iconoclast in the shooting fraternity, says Huntington, (editor of American Handgunner and Guns magazines and a longtime friend of the Smiths.) "The proprietor of Thunder Ranch regards handguns, even powerful .45 caliber pistols, as poor fighting instruments and prefers rifles because the bullets hit harder."
Is Lakeview is about to become another training site for the public and private police armies?...plus anyone wanting to take up a gun to enforce their cause. In Lakeview, military and police teams will train at the ranch. The local politicians says this will give Lakeview a new economic face. Together with the new prison, Lakeview has just become a fortress unto itself. Gun selling shops are beginning to move in and replace the once thriving old west theme restaurants and gift shops. Survivalists are beginning to address Lakeview as the new frontier.
One more interesting fact about Lakeview. As the water dries up there has been an increase in small earthquake swarms. Some locals believe that the underground aquifers are all but gone and there are a number of sinkholes beginning to appear in the geology. In effect, the ground is collapsing. The whole area is a natural hot geological area. Hot water from natural the natural volcano lakes region is rising up and drinking and irrigation water is disappearing from wells and streams. Few locals are willing to address the earthquake swarms. They blame the lack of water on Environmentalists who are somehow keeping the water from flowing to their ranches, farms and houses.
Link to cool earthquake monitoring site - Look at the yellow boxes on the border of California. That would be Lakeview: http://www.geophys.washington.edu/recenteqs/
Other interesting Links
Western Prison Project - http://www.westernprisonproject.org/index.html
Interesting study of how Prisons are being built with state tax dollars - link to www.westernprisonproject.org
Link to tourism site on Lakeview. Lots of pics of the area: http://www.lakevieworegon.us/Tour/Tour10.html
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