Nevada leaders to present case against base closure
Nevada Appeal News Service
FALLON – State Sen. Mike McGinness of Fallon and several other state leaders will meet with the Base Realignment and Closure Commission today in an attempt to save the Hawthorne Army Depot from closing and to retain the Nevada Air Guard’s eight C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.
The Hawthorne facility was recommended for closure and the Air Guard’s only flying assets, the eight C-130s, are to be transferred from Reno-Tahoe International Airport to Little Rock, Ark., Air Force Base, according to the commission report issued May 13, which also recommended the closing and downsizing of 180 domestic military installations.
McGinness and the other Nevadans traveling with him to New Mexico to meet with the BRAC panel will try to influence the nine-member group appointed by President George Bush to reverse the Pentagon’s decisions concerning Hawthorne and the Air Guard, McGinness said.
“The BRAC panel is holding hearings all over the country in regions hit by the Pentagon’s base closing proposals, and the BRAC has the mandate to accept or reject all or some of those proposals,” he said.
The BRAC must present its final decisions to the president and Congress by early September, McGinness added.
Joining McGinness at the regional BRAC meeting in Clovis, N.M., will be Gov. Kenny Guinn, Nevada Homeland Security Director Giles Vanderhoof, Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Cindy Kirkland, State Sen. Randolph Townsend and Shelley Hartmann, executive director of the Mineral County Economic Development Commission.
Because McGinness’ state Senate district encompasses Hawthorne, which is the Mineral County seat, both he and Hartmann will be testifying before the BRAC panel on the Pentagon’s plans to close the Hawthorne Army installation.
“The information used by the Pentagon to justify its decision to close the facility is flawed. The Pentagon, for example, said that Hawthorne is part of the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area, and thus the laying off of the Hawthorne base’s workers would cause only minuscule unemployment.
“The fact is that Hawthorne is 130 miles from Reno and Sparks, and if the base is closed, half or more of Hawthorne’s work force would be unemployed. In addition, the Pentagon did not note the importance of Hawthorne’s base to NAS Fallon and other military bases in collecting and processing their exploded and unused ordnance. The Pentagon also did not factor in the training of Navy Seals and other military units at Hawthorne,” McGinness said.
As well, the Pentagon did not disclose the massive costs involved in cleaning up the Hawthorne facility if it is closed and it also did not note it would cost at least $800,000 to replicate new equipment recently installed at the base.
The BRAC members at Clovis will review base closing recommendations in several Western states as well as in Nevada.
Clovis, a community of 32,000 about 10 miles west of the New Mexico-Texas state line, also is facing the closure of a military base.
Cannon Air Force Base, which employs about 4,200 military and civilian personnel, is responsible for approximately 20 percent of the Clovis area’s economy. Last year, it spent about $211 million for salaries and local contracts, said David Stevens, editor of the Clovis Daily News-Journal.
Cannon AFB is home of the Air Force’s 27th Fighter Wing which flies F/16 “Fighting Falcon” aircraft, and thousands of Clovis residents are expected to line the city’s streets to greet the BRAC panel in efforts to persuade it to reject the Pentagon’s plan to shutter Cannon, Stevens told the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.