Maxwell, Rucker to close down?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 17, 2004

My first visit to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery was in the spring of 1955. I was a ninth grade student at Luverne High School.

Our teacher took us on a &uot;field trip&uot; and we toured the base, got to go inside several airplanes, and we were treated to lunch at the Officers’ Club. I remember feeling what a neat experience this was.

Since that first visit I have had many opportunities to interact with Maxwell and its military leadership, and I have always appreciated the very professional way in which they conduct their business at this military installation.

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It should be a matter of great concern to all of us that both Maxwell and Fort Rucker are on the study list for base closures. Sometimes I think we take these two military bases for granted when, in fact, they are very important parts of our south Alabama economy as well as key players in the defense of our nation.

The economic impact which these military bases have on our state is very significant. It is measured annually in millions of dollars.

In addition to the monetary impact, there is a very positive social aspect to their being located in Alabama. I know that in the Montgomery area many of the PTA chairpersons are military personnel, a number of church leaders are based at Maxwell, some are serving as officers at local civic clubs and perhaps most importantly a large number of persons based at Maxwell and Gunter elect to retire in the state of Alabama.

I have a friend in Prattville who owns six rental houses and he states to me that every house is rented to a military family and several of his former tenants have retired and remain in the Prattville area.

In recent days I have seen a number of public officials, including Governor Bob Riley, Congressmen Terry Everett and Mike Rogers, publicly acknowledge the importance of these bases to our state and they are taking aggressive steps to protect them against base closure.

The President has set up a base closure commission that will be responsible for reviewing the activities and strategic needs of these bases. They have begun their work and will make a report to the President and to Congress sometime this year.

As a state official I do not have a vote on this issue but I intend to do what I can as a very interested public officeholder and citizen to protect these bases against closure. If we were to lose either Maxwell or Fort Rucker, it would not only be a devastating blow to the economy of Alabama but, in my opinion, it would represent a setback to the military defense of our nation.

Until next time, remember &uot;I’ll go with your or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.