Crawford: "Sober Time in Mississippi"

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Bill Crawford, deputy director of the Mississippi Development Authority, who has headed Mississippi's efforts to save its military installations, told business leaders in Meridian Tuesday that the Pentagon has been totally silent about its plans.

"This is a sober time in Mississippi. Basically, first, I want to think we might sort of know what might happen Friday, but the reality is nobody knows what's going to come out Friday," Crawford said.

Crawford said it is going to be very difficult to escape this round if a base is on the list.

"The strategy to save the base is very simple. It has two components if you're on the list. One, you have to have a case based on military value to save the base. Second, you have to get the commissioners to want to save the base," Crawford said.

Both NAS Meridian and the 186th Air National Guard facility are considered to be at risk.

"We don't know yet how many in Mississippi will be on there. It would be a shock not to have any on there," said Crawford. "We've never had none on the list."

Others who have been sharing the fight against base closure in our state attended the meeting. Lamar McDonald of Meridian is chairman of the Mississippi Military Communities Council.

"What we've been trying to do is to imagine all the possible scenarios and try to prepare information to respond to each of those," said McDonald.

Brian Henson of the Kemper Economic Development Authority emphasized regional support.

"This meeting was to show everyone in the surrounding areas this community, Kemper, Neshoba, everyone that we're working together," said Henson. "This is going to take a group effort to get this accomplished."

State Sen. Videt Carmichael said the legislature has done its part.

"I want to protect us and there's other areas in the state that wants to protect themselves, so consequently, it makes the whole state pull together, which I think is a good thing," said Carmichael.

Publication time Friday is expected to be shortly after 7:30 a.m. Central time. Communities will have 45 days to convince the BRAC Commission to taken them off the lost. On July 1, an updated list will be released. That list will go to the President by Sept. 9 and he will have until Sept. 23 to approve it. After that, Congress will have 45 legislative days to approve the final list.