Keesler Unscathed, Meridian Waits

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Keesler Medical Center will remain a full-service hospital after an independent commission rejected a Pentagon plan that would have downsized the Air Force base facility on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Thursday's vote came one day after the Base Closing and Realignment Commission voted unanimously to close Naval Station Pascagoula in neighboring Jackson County.

Lamar McDonald of Meridian was appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour to head the Mississippi Military Communities Council. He says the committee adopted an amendment that took Keesler off the realignment list. McDonald says this means the medical center will stay as it is.

There had been discussion earlier Thursday of downsizing the medical center to a community hospital. Had that proposal been approved, Keesler's medical residency program would have been eliminated.

Still awaiting a decision by the commission are proposals that would realign Naval Air Station Meridian and the 186th Air National Guard Refueling Wing, also in Meridian.