Chairman: "We Will Be Heard"

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

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Tom Williams, manager of the Meridian Regional Airport, heads a local committee working to get the 186th Air Refueling Wing off a list of bases recommended for closure by the Pentagon.

Williams said it has met repeatedly, building a case against closure or reduction of the unit.

"The evaluations were set up by the Department of Defense for the Air Force, Navy and other groups to develop those recommendations and present them to the BRAC Commission for their evaluation," Williams said.

Williams said that evaluation was very thorough.

"They had thousands of things. Everything from the facilities to the mission, the location of their mission, the weather, air traffic control, air space, many, many different things," Williams said. "Overall, top to bottom scale, we did well, but in the scale of the bases that do tankers, we performed toward the middle, little bit below the middle."

Now Williams said, all locals can do is to sit tight and wait for the opportunity to present its case.

"We appear before the commission July 12 in New Orleans and that will be our turn at bat," said the chairman. "Along the way, we'll be making the case to different staff members of the commission to get the details of our presentation to them."

Williams said it is not likely the BRAC Commission will come to Meridian for an on-site inspection. Even so, he said he is very hopeful.

"I'm very encouraged by what we've found. There's a lot of information on our side. We cannot find anything that refutes our argument. They may well vote to let the tankers leave, but I will be shocked if they do," Williams said.

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