Emily Cassulo

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Video: Columbus AFB Making Improvements Despite Cuts

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Forget the sequester. The Columbus Air Force Base says it’s still making improvements to its facility, despite major budget cuts.

Many student pilots now get to use a new runway.

“And today to be able to open this, the longest runway east of the Mississippi is another great milestone for Mississippi’s support of our military men and woman,” said Gov. Phil Bryant, R-Mississippi.

Base leaders say it only took six months for them to make over the center runway, which was nearly 60 years old and worn out. This, all while undergoing major budget cuts this year.

“Before sequestration and before the cuts, we were able to find the money and work out the project, and then through aggressive cost cutting measures, we were able to actually within the $34 million get two projects done,” Col. Jim Sears said.

“I think it just happened to be the right timing and the right time to request the information to come and look at our facility,” Col. Billye Hutchison said.

Base officials say they’re also renovating their medical facility, Koritz Clinic – making it more easily accessible for patients.

“As we’ve gone and grown and military healthcare has changed, a lot of our facilities have transitioned to full out patient clinics, and some have a lot of space inside that’s not appropriately utilized for what we need to do today,” Hutchison said.

And despite the budget cuts, officials say they’ll continue to make improvements, and look toward the future.

Base officials say they’ll start moving into the temporary medical facility, Saturday.

Renovations should be complete by late spring of 2015.