Guard Meridian Plan in the Works

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

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Suggestions for how members of the public can be involved in saving Meridian's Air National Guard unit ranged far and wide. For example, it was learned there is a need for a letter writing campaign since the BRAC Commission is posting every letter it receives on the Internet.

Kim Gianakos, leader of the media campaign, pointed out why the local effort is so vital.

"The guard unit, these are hometown heroes. They're not just home grown. They're hometown. They live here. They work here. Their families are here. They're from our surrounding counties and they really support a mission like this, so if we lose, we lose very good jobs for people who are from this area and we don't want them to leave," said Gianakos.

The effort will build up to a July 12 climax when Meridian representatives will be in New Orleans to make the case on behalf of the 186th to BRAC representatives.

In the meantime the local campaign will use television and radio spots, newspaper display advertising and 2,000 yard signs, among other methods of encouraging public participation.

Committee member Kelly Smith said the yard signs will likely be available at the EMBDC office, possibly the mall's customer service desk, the water department in city hall, the courthouse and even at local restaurants.

"Especially at the restaurants on the interstate, where people are coming in and out from other counties as well," said Smith. "I mean, we want them to feel like they can buy into this. They can take a yard sign into Kemper County or Neshoba County. I mean, it's as vital to them as it is to us. We're looking at this and we'll be releasing the locations at where these signs will be as soon as we get that mailing."

Meanwhile, the public's participation is needed and wanted.

As Gianakos said about the signs and the campaign slogan: "It's 'Guard Meridian' and it has two meanings in our mind. It's the Guard at Meridian and then we need to guard Meridian's assets, which is the Air Guard. It is best for America and that will come out in our strategic argument, why it is best for America," Gianakos said.

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