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Local leaders: NAS Meridian will survive

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Aug. 19, 2001
While they shudder at the mention of another possible round of military base closings, Navy Meridian Team members believe that Naval Air Station Meridian appears to be on firm ground.
Currently, a new administration building is under construction at NAS Meridian. Also, a new tower and operations building are nearly completed, McDonald said.
NAS Meridian was on the closure list in 1991, 1993 and 1995; the base survived all three threats. The Navy Meridian Team has stayed intact since the last round of closings and has continued to monitor any matters involving the base.
There are currently two bills before Congress that would create new base-closure commissions. One was introduced by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; the other is being backed by the U.S. Defense Department.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld plans to unveil a proposal sometime next month for a leaner Defense Department. At that time, McDonald said, more details might be available about the makeup and scope of a base-closure commission.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott wants to keep training bases off limits from a base closure commission.
A threat to the NAS Meridian, no matter how remote, also would be a threat to Lauderdale County's largest employer. At last count, NAS Meridian employed 3,358 people.
McDonald said Navy Meridian Team members planned to visit Washington in October to meet with Mississippi's congressional delegation and military officials.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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