Protecting NAS Meridian

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A future Base Closure and Realignment Commission, to trim military installations around the nation, is still very real and set for 2005.

Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott said Thursday, that, in view of aviation's crucial role in the was in Iraq, he does not believe any Mississippi air training facilities should be subject to closure.

"I believe very strongly that Meridian Naval Air Station and Columbus Air Force Base should not even be on the list to be considered," Lott said.

"It could save our people in that area in the Golden Triangle and Meridian a lot of effort and consternation."

Meanwhile, the Meridian Area Navy League reported Thursday on an effort that it says could help save NAS Meridian from closure.

Its membership drive, which began near the end of April, will continue through the summer. Already 130 new members have signed on.

President Bill Johnson told the board of directors of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation that apathy could cost Meridian in a BRAC process. It's one reason the membership drive was launched.

"We're attempting to get that membership back up to the 1200 it was then. We think that's one of the reasons this base was kept. As Jim McGinnis said, sometimes small reasons can make a big difference. And we know that membership in the Navy League shows community support," said Johnson.

Current membership is above 700. The membership drive will continue through the summer.

Individuals may join for $40.00 per year, $70.00 for a one-year husband-wife membership.