Line May Help Secure NAS

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In 1995 when base closure threatened NAS Meridian, the state legislature appropriated $50 million to help local communities with military installations create projects that might make them more secure.

Ken Storms, Meridian's chief administrative officer, also a former Navy captain at the base explains.

"The city's side of it was to provide an improved way of handling the sewage at the air station. The reason these projects came into play was to increase the military value of that base to the Department of Defense by decreasing its cost of doing business," Storms said.

The state contributed about $5 million, Congress another $1 million plus, and the city an equal $1 million plus, about $7 million in all. The line went into operation last Thursday. It starts at NAS, runs about 15 miles and ends up at the city's new wastewater treatment plant just off old Highway 45, south of Avery Dennison.

"I think it's of significant value," said Storms. "It was something we needed to do. We had to do it and we did it.

Lt. Commander Erick Arroyo, Public Works Officer at NAS, also praised the concept of the sewage line.

"I think any kind of cooperation effort between the city of Meridian and the base such as this clearly demonstrates the support that the community has for the Naval Air Station," said Arroyo. "This is certainly a win-win situation for both the city and the Naval Air Station."

Arroyo said the sewage line solves a problem at NAS.

"We've had a difficult time in finding the funds to improve our wastewater treatment facilities. With this connection with the city, we actually have bypassed that requirement," Arroyo said.

Storms said there's no guarantee this will keep NAS off the base closure list but he said not building it might have been detrimental to local efforts to do just that.