Fallon mayor disputes newspaper claims of poor relations with Navy
FALLON – Mayor Ken Tedford was puzzled when he read a Los Angeles Times article describing locals as “tired of being harassed by air jockeys” from the Naval Air Station Fallon.
For one thing, it read like a story from five years ago.
“I get calls once or twice a month from the media about the Navy,” said Tedford, a 13-year member of Fallon’s City Council. “Nobody (from the Times) talked to me. It’s unusual. You wish they’d call you so they see how the city of Fallon sees things. I don’t see the people of Fallon having issues with the things this guy writes about.”
The Oct. 6 story cites episodes of stray bombings, low flights at high speeds and chaff drops bothering residents in remote areas in Churchill County.
But the article freely generalizes “locals” and “Nevadans” as synonymous with Fallon residents.
The Times acknowledges “many locals still say the newest Navy flyboys are good for Fallon,” but the bulk of the story paints a picture of how Fallon residents are “locked in a battle over noise and health.”
However, most complaining residents quoted live far from Fallon, such as Grace Potorti, a Reno resident critical of military land withdrawals in Nevada, and residents of Middlegate, a crossroads about 50 miles east of Fallon.
“I wish he would have interviewed someone who lived in Fallon,” Tedford said. “Why didn’t he go to the front door of Raley’s and ask, ‘What do you think of the Navy?’ I haven’t heard any people in any of my campaigns ask me, ‘What are you going to do about NAS Fallon?'”
A Nevada Appeal survey of 20 shoppers at Raley’s in Fallon found not one person complained about the Navy base.
“I don’t have any problem with them personally,” said Jack Allen, a Fallon resident for 39 years. “(The noise) used to be worse but they have been very cooperative. They seem to try to not fly over the city.”
Sharon Scheid said, “I’ve lived here all my life and I’m OK with the Navy. My daughter works out there so I’m glad they’re here.”
Much as Navy and Bureau of Land Management officials characterize the Times article as “old news,” the mayor similarly said the problem periods were five to 10 years ago.
“I haven’t heard of someone flying low and spooking cows, not in a long time,” Tedford said. “In the past four, five years, the Navy has become so much better. They address issues quickly. Whether it’s good or bad, they call you. The level of person in the Navy today is so much higher than we used to see.”