Barbour: Military Ranks High

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Just moments after he took the oath of office, Gov. Barbour issued an executive order to re-establish the Mississippi Military Communities Council. Lamar McDonald, an executive member of the council and Chairman of the "Navy Meridian Team" says this is very good news.

"It indicates he thinks this is very important," said McDonald

Barbour's order does not start anything new, it simply re-emphasizes the role the council has in advising the Mississippi legislature on Military issues. In fact, the committee has been very active for years now.

"For NAS Meridian, we have worked our delegation, Senators and Representatives to secure funding for infrastructure, construction and for procurement," said McDonald.

More specifically the council along with the help of a hired consultant advises state officials on how to improve, expand, or enhance the state's military institutions.

Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove angered the council in 2002 when he fired their primary consultant Barry Rhoads and hired another firm with close political ties. The Mississippi Senate later overturned the Governor's decision and re-instated Rhoades, who many think will protect Mississippi’s bases in the upcoming Base Realignment and Closure process *(BRAC).

NAS Meridian, along with Mississippi's other military bases directly employ some 36, 000 people and have an annual payroll of more than 1.2 billion dollars. These facts make BRAC and Barbour's emphasis on the military a huge economic impact on this state.

"The Department of Defense is set on closing some bases and of course we are very concerned. That’s why we are doing what we can to keep these bases off the initial list," says McDonald.