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Marines will stay close to home for urban training

Toledo Blade | January 2 2005

The Marines will take over parts of downtown Toledo as sounds of gunfire will echo off buildings when training exercises are conducted next weekend.

A Marine Corps unit based in Perrysburg will stage the exercises from 9 p.m. Jan. 7 to about noon Jan. 9, Maj. Gregory Cramer said.

Major Cramer said most of the 130-member unit - Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines - will take part in the exercises.

"We're looking for an urban environment to do our training," he said. "Urban training is one of the proficiencies we're required to maintain."

Major Cramer said Marines will be dressed in green and will be carrying rifles through the streets, but the exercises should have a minimal impact on the downtown area. He said the Marines will be firing blanks and conducting operations throughout the area.

"The only request we would have of folks, if they happen to be near where an exercise is taking place, is to stay away as much as possible," Major Cramer said.

The exercise area roughly will be north of Monroe Street, west of the Maumee River, south and west of Cherry Street, south of Woodruff Ave., and east of Collingwood Boulevard.

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre said military exercises have been conducted before in the downtown area with a minimal impact on city residents. He said city and police officials have been working with the Marines to help the exercises go smoothly.

"Training is extremely important, not just in our profession, but in the military too," Chief Navarre said. "We're not going to place any obstacles in their way."

Jean Atkin, administrator for the Lucas County Common Pleas Court, said the unit was granted permission to use the courthouse grounds. The unit, though, won't use the interior of the courthouse.

"We used to do this when we were kids - you know, running around the woods," Ms. Atkin said. "They're just going to use the downtown."