08/15/04 — Governor presents check

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Governor presents check

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on August 15, 2004 7:28 AM

Efforts to help protect Seymour Johnson Air Force Base from the next round of base closings were given another boost Friday from the state.

Gov. Mike Easley presented a check for $150,000 to "Team GoldWayne for Seymour," which is made up Goldsboro, Wayne County and Seymour Support Council officials.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith wrote a letter to Easley requesting that the state match the $425,000 that was raised locally to protect the base during the next Base Realignment and Closure process. The $150,000 presented Friday at the Wayne County Courthouse comes from last year's state budget.

"The base is an integral part of the community and provides important jobs and investments both locally and across the state," said Easley.

"We must do what we can to protect Seymour Johnson, its personnel and the surrounding community in the upcoming BRAC process."

The money will help assess the current strengths and vulnerabilities of Seymour Johnson and its surrounding community.

It will also be used to update zoning around the base where there are potential threats to its mission. The group will also develop a media plan to demonstrate the local commitment to Seymour's presence through billboards, Web sites.

Other uses for the money include helping retiring military personnel and their spouses find jobs, securing new missions and military investments for the base, and buying land around the base to protect its mission.

Team GoldWayne is the third recipient of a state match to prepare for BRAC. Earlier this year, Easley announced $150,000 for the Onslow County Committee of 100 and presented $150,000 to Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow.

The 2004-2005 state budget, which was signed into law in July, authorizes up to $2 million to prepare for BRAC. This money includes allocations for individual community efforts.

Easley said the military is the largest employer east of Interstate 95. It contributes $18 billion to the state's economy each year, and Seymour Johnson generates more than $800 million annually through payroll, operations, outside contracts and retirees.

He said state officials are working together to put their best foot forward and justify why each base is necessary. There are lobbyists in Washington, D.C., passing the word on also.

He said that not only do the bases need to stay open, but need to have room for expansion when other bases are realigned. Having a community that supports the military is the most critical aspect of the decision that is going to be made by the BRAC commission, he added.

The timeline is for the president to submit BRAC Commission nominees to Congress in March. In September, the commission will report its recommendations to the president and if the president approves, it becomes law unless Congress passes a disapproval resolution within 45 days.

The BRAC criteria places emphasis on military value, which includes current and future mission capability; jointness of war fighting, training and readiness; and the ability to accommodate future contingency and mobilization.

Troy Pate, co-chairman of the N.C. Advisory Commission on Military Affairs, said Easley knows how important Seymour Johnson and all of the bases are to the state and nation.