Mayor Beasley joins Heartbeat of the Wiregrass Coalition

Published 4:34 pm Thursday, October 12, 2017

Luverne mayor Ed Beasley is the latest dignitary to join ongoing efforts to protect a military installation that has influence far beyond the county it inhabits.

The Heartbeat of the Wiregrass is an initiative that aims to shine a light on Fort Rucker and the vital role it plays for the Wiregrass region and Southeast Alabama as a whole.

Founded earlier this year, the Heartbeat of the Wiregrass is a grassroots coalition consisting of local citizens, businesses, military personnel, community leaders and more who have lent their support to Fort Rucker and the men and women of the military.

Beasley’s voice joins others, including Sen. Richard Shelby, Rep. Marthy Roby and Gov. Kay Ivey, who have offered their support.

Beasley added that the importance of raising awareness of Fort Rucker’s economic and social impact couldn’t be understated, but there’s also the role it plays in national security that is worth consideration.

“It’s really crucial to this area to keep Fort Rucker viable and able to provide training for our pilots,” he said.

“It all spills over into the surrounding counties with first responders and service people.  Some of them are civilian contractors, and some of them are military-connected.”

Fort Rucker has provided an economic boost to the region for 75 years.  To date, it provides $1.56 billion in annual economic impact to the Wiregrass region.  It also is responsible for more than 23,000 jobs in that region alone.

It accounts for nearly a fifth of all wages earned, and yet budget threats leave Fort Rucker’s future in danger.

Beasley said that the negative impact that would result from the shuttering of Fort Rucker would be felt in Crenshaw County, as well.

“We’ve had numerous people from the Luverne area and the Brantley area who are firefighters in Dothan,” Beasley said, noting Fort Rucker’s economic impact on Crenshaw County.

Those facts even eluded Beasley himself, he admitted, despite having family members stationed there.

“I actually didn’t realize what an impact Fort Rucker played on our county until I got to thinking about it and looking at some numbers,” he continued.  “My brother-in-law was in the U.S. Army, and when he got back from his deployment he was a helicopter training pilot in Fort Rucker.  It’s amazing how many people they employ from Crenshaw County, Butler County and beyond.”

The coalition is urging citizens to join simply by visiting www.wiregrassheartbeat.com and adding one’s name and email address.  Anyone can join. There is no fee, and members will never be solicited for financial donations.