BRAC Hears Meridian's Side

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

The Meridian Military Team, called "The A-Team", was one of four groups from Mississippi that had the opportunity to argue its case before three BRAC Commissioners in New Orleans Friday.

The others were defending Pascagoula, Keesler Air Force Base Hospital and Stennis Space Center.

Newscenter 11 We talked with two members of the local group after the meeting.

Tom Williams, who headed the team, was enthusiastic over the commissioners' reactions.

"I've been to several regional hearings and the majority of the time the commissioners have their heads in the books, the background information or they are making notes," Williams said. "In our presentation, they paid attention to the presentation more than any other I've seen. One commissioner nodded five or six times when we made particularly good points during the presentation. All of them paid attention and we could not have been any happier."

Mississippi was represented by Cong. Chip Pickering, Cong. Gene Taylor and Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck. Langford Knight spoke for Meridian. Knight spent 31 years in the National Guard and has over 10,000 hours of flight time.

Lamar McDonald, the state chairman of the Mississippi Military Council, summarized the local presentation.

"Our main argument was optimal proximity," McDonald said. "We cover the southeast area here where they're increasing the number of fighters. They're increasing the number of receivers and they're taking the tankers away. They're decreasing the number of tankers by some 23 percent and increasing the fighter planes here by 12 percent. And it just doesn't make sense. And the commissioners seemed to buy that."

McDonald said the local delegation was pleased with its effort.

"We've been very optimistic for a while. I think today just reinforced our feeling," said McDonald.

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