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Officials update public on base closures

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
March 17, 2004
Residents, business leaders and elected officials will have a chance to learn about efforts to save Mississippi's military bases during a briefing Friday at Union Station.
The governor's office, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Military Communities Council and the Navy Meridian Team will sponsor the 10 a.m. event that is open to anyone who wants to attend.
The Defense Department has announced plans to close up to 25 percent of the military bases across the country.
No military bases in Mississippi have been closed in three previous rounds of the base realignment and closure efforts, more commonly referred to as BRAC.
Military bases in the state provide more than 36,000 military and civilian jobs and an economic impact upwards of $1.4 billion.
McDonald said Navy Meridian Team's main focus is to protect Naval Air Station Meridian and the 186th Air Refueling Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard from the next round of BRAC, which is set for 2005.
The Mississippi Military Communities Council coordinates the state's efforts.
Bill Crawford of Meridian, a deputy director of the Mississippi Development Authority the state's chief economic development agency is also working on saving the state's military bases.
Crawford headed successful efforts to save NAS Meridian from BRAC in the 1990s.
He visited this week with residents in Biloxi, Gulfport, Hattiesburg and Jackson and is expected to visit Vicksburg, Grenada, Bay St. Louis and Columbus all areas with military bases.
Locally, McDonald said the goal is to convince BRAC and the Defense Department that they can't live without NAS Meridian and the 186th Air Refueling Wing.

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