New Mexico Tech plans anti-terror academy

May 17, 2004 at 4:16 PM

SOCORRO, N.M., May 17 (UPI) -- New Mexico Tech announced plans to buy an old mining town in southwestern New Mexico to be the base for its proposed anti-terrorism academy.

The school's regents approved the purchase after learning that federal funding for the $5 million purchase of Playas, N.M., from Phelps Dodge Corp.

Playas was once home to about 1,000 people but most moved after Phelps closed copper-smelting operations in the area five years ago. The 640-acre town has been in the real estate market for about 2 1/2 years, a company spokesman said.

The town has 259 company-owned houses and several buildings that were used by businesses, such as a bank and bowling alley, making it a potential training ground for first responders to a bioterrorism attack, a 2003 release from Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., stated.

Ken Vaughn, a Phelps Dodge spokesman, said Playas was built in the 1970s as a company town to support the smelting operation. There are fewer than 100 people living in the town now, he said.

He said the deal was expected to be completed in several weeks.

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