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Base Closure Threat Getting Region's Attention

Posted by Steve Rogers | July 12, 2012 / 04:00pm | Local News, Political, Business
WEST POINT, Miss. (WCBI) -- The potential for another round of military base closings that could impact Columbus Air Force Base is getting the attention of key business leaders in area communities.

Golden Triangle Regional Airport Director Mike Hainsey, a former Air Force pilot and a member of the state's military affairs committee, told West Point Rotarians today the Pentagon is scheduled for massive budget cuts in the coming years and realigning bases will be part of that process.

The cuts come on top of almost $500 billion in reductions the defense department has seen in the last decade.

Columbus Air Force Base and the $262 million it pumps into the region's economy has avoided those cuts in previous closures but with fewer bases, that could change. But according to Hainsey, that means communities like West Point, Starkville, Monroe County and West Alabama must get involved with efforts to show support for CAFB and the more than 3,000 jobs in supports directly and indirectly.

Public and financial support could be critical  when the final base closing lists are generated in the next two or three years.

The state's military affairs analyst says CAFB is among the two most vulnerable in the state for closure or a reduction in force.

The threat is getting the attention of local leaders even before the process seriously gets under way in Washington.

"Anytime there are talks or consideration of change or altering it in any way that would be negative for the community, it is something we take very seriously," said West Point Rotarian Kevin Tate.

"I can promise you here in West Point we are extremely concerned about what happens to the base and knows how vital it is to this community as well as the Golden Triangle," echoed fellow Rotarian Keith Mooney.

A number of local and regional groups already are gearing up to generate public and financial support to help safeguard the base and the jobs it creates.
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