NAS officer ‘bullish’ on Fallon
Naval Air Station Fallon is increasing the number of its projects and expanding its role in Churchill County, said Capt. David Holloran, commanding office.
With three months into his position, Halloran is bullish on both Fallon and the base. He said the people of Fallon understand how much the base contributes to Churchill County. Since his first visits to NAS Fallon in 1992 as a young pilot, Halloran said Fallon has grown more and embraced the Navy.
“It’s a great relationship,” Halloran said.
Halloran assumed his new position in March, relieving Capt. Leif Steinbaugh, who rotated to the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center as the training office. Like his predecessor, Halloran serves as the county’s “second mayor” in charge of a self-contained facility that provides support for tenant commands and NAWDC.
Halloran came to Fallon from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington where he served as the Air Boss. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Halloran was commissioned a second lieutenant through Navy ROTC. He and his wife, Margaret, have 11-year-old twins.
Halloran said the economic impact the military installation has on the region is enormous considering the jobs at the base, and taxers paid into the economy by military and civilian personnel.
“Three counties are affected by NAS Fallon, mostly Churchill and then Washoe and Lyon,” Halloran said.
Referring to a 2015 Navy Region Southwest scientific structuring model, Halloran said the air station provides a $500 million total economic impact to the area. That figure is up from the last impact model released in 2008. Furthermore, he said payroll has increased to $78 million, and the number of military and civilian jobs has risen.
Halloran said the total number of direct and indirect jobs associated with NAS Fallon, which also includes part-time employment, is more than 4,500. About $608,000 is distributed to the school district to educate dependents on military servicemen and women.
“That number fluctuates throughout the years,” Halloran said.
White Halloran noted the many increases affecting NAS Fallon, he said the number of contracts has decreased in eight years.
Halloran focused on NAS Fallon’s future based on a master deign.
“A lot of construction is coming to the base in the immediate future,” Halloran said, noting NAS Fallon is an extension of other Navy air bases that send their pilots and support personnel to the Nevada desert for training.
Halloran said Fallon continues to train carrier air wings at least twice, one for two weeks for selected units and then for six weeks with the entire air wing staying at the air station.
“The big point is twice every two years they have to come to Fallon,” he pointed out, “before they go on deployments. Everybody regardless of what aviation base they come from is coming to Fallon to train.”
He said NAS Fallon and NAWDC will not get smaller but increase with additional growth. Halloran said the Navy has signed a new maintenance contract that will result in the hiring of at least 40 — perhaps as many as 70 workers — and the base will have six F-35s no later than 2023 for additional training.
New projects include the repairing and relighting of one of the base’s shortest runways, the building of a Navy Reserve Center and constructing a new waster water treatment center. A hangar will be redesigned for the F-35, while a simulator building for NAWDC to assist with new missions is also planned.
“The future is looking good for Fallon,” he said.
Halloran, though, said housing continues to be a problem. Because of redesign and remodeling, the number of base houses has dropped from 230 to 202 with the completion of new construction forecast in five to six years.
“We’re down 60 houses at any time, and we estimate having about 140 to 150 available houses at any time,” he said.
Halloran said the plan shows between 230 to 272 houses are needed for NAS Fallon.
Because of the tight housing market in Fallon, Halloran said rentals are costing more and the supply of houses for sale is becoming smaller. Although some base personnel may be tempted to move to Fernley, Halloran said future workers for the Tesla plant and current sailors and their families with the base are flooding the market looking for rental property.
“I would like to see more housing starts in Fallon,” Halloran added.
Because of the dwindling supply, Halloran said he needs to persuade the Navy to move up its timeline for constructing more housing at the base.
Halloran said his command is trying to seek solutions for providing transportation into town for junior sailors on temporary duty to NAS Fallon. Since the Navy cannot provide a shuttle, Halloran said he would like to establish joint working model to provide transportation into Fallon and also to some of the recreational activities such as the golf course.
When he first came to Fallon for training in the early 1990s,Hallroan said a private shuttle transported the sailors into town.
“I’m hoping we can come up with a plan,” he said. “I would like to get more business into Fallon.”