05/12/05 — Some not worried about base

View Archive

Some not worried about base

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on May 12, 2005 1:59 PM

Many Wayne County residents have mixed emotions about the possibility of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base closing.

Federal officials are expected to announce Friday what military bases around the country will be recommended for closure or realignment. Seymour Johnson could be on the list.

For some residents, closure would mean disaster. For others, it would have little impact.

"I've heard that they've been talking about closing the base, but they've talked about that for years," said David Irish. "If they do close it, this will be a ghost town."

However, Irish said he doesn't believe he would be affected personally because he's retired.

Alton Whitley, an employee at Pate-Dawson, said he didn't think he would be affected by the base's closure, but said he believes that if the base closes, or employs fewer people through realignment, that many local businesses would be affected.

Terra Worrell, who works in a local law office, said she had read a little about the base issue, and believes closing or reducing its mission would be a bad idea.

David Dodson said he had heard that the government was trying to get rid of the base, and close it down.

"I think that would be bad if that happened," Dodson said. "It needs to stay."

DeShawnte Artis said she felt safer having the base in Goldsboro, because she thought there are greater security efforts with a base in town.

Ms. Artis and Dodson, both students at Wayne Community College, said Seymour Johnson is an important part of the county's history and economy and that the county residents would suffer economically if it closes.

Jonathan Hollingsworth, a construction worker, said he hadn't heard anything recently about the possibility of the base shutting down.

"If it closed it probably would have an impact on businesses," he said, "because that's about all there is here."

"I'd love to see it stay open, because I'm retired National Guard and I get my benefits out there," Ed Faircloth said while eating at Wilber's Barbecue this mornging. But Faircloth said he understands the frustrations of others who see the base as invasive. City and county officials have taken steps to control development around the base to prevent its mission from being compromised. That has not been met with much sympathy from affected property owners.

"They have de-valued his property, and he's still paying a tax rate," Faircloth said, referring to Wilber Shirley, the restaurant's owner.

Nelson Mitchell said decibel levels from overhead jets have affected property values in neighborhoods near the base.

"I think it's de-valued property here. I don't think it's fair." Mitchell said he believes taxes on property within the noise level range should be lowered.

"I don't want it to close, but if it's going to close now, or it's going to close five years from now, let's go ahead and get it done," Mitchell said.

"They're taking a few people, and making them pay the price for everybody in Wayne County," Mitchell said, referring to the property owners near the base.

Jack Anderson said the zoning laws have produced some strange results. "On the east side of 111, they've got a shopping center. On the west side, you can't have a rabbit box,"he said.

"I hope the base stays here because it's good for the economy, but as a farmer, it devalues my property," Billy Uzzell said. "The agriculture industry doesn't benefit from the base, but for the general public, I hope it stays because it's good for the economy."