BRAC members to be announced - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

BRAC members to be announced

Albany-- The President will announce the nine members of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission Tuesday, and mostly likely, none of them will be from Georgia.

So, will that increase the chance for Georgia bases including MCLB to end up on the chopping block?

It's crunch time to save the Albany marine base. "We basically have ten weeks to ago, before the May 16th announcement of bases suggested for closure," County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said.

May 16th, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will give the BRAC Commission his list of base closures and realignments. Tuesday, the President will announce the nine people who'll serve on the commission.

"They will take the recommendation that Secretary Rumsfeld will give them on May 16th, evaluate it, and come up with their own list," said Economic Development Commission leader Tim Martin.

Keeping the Albany marine base off that list has been the main goal of the Southwest Georgia Alliance for Progress for more than a year. So news that no Georgians will likely serve on BRAC hit hard.

Will Georgia have a voice now? Martin says yes. "We believe Georgia would be better served by not having a member because those members would have to recuse themselves from all consideration about Georgia bases," said Martin.

"We're not going to give up to the final ax is hit. We're going to continue to see anyone who will see use that could have a positive effect on keeping this military base open," Sinyard said.

Alliance leaders says MCLB is the nation's 911 center and can't easily be closed. "When our country has an emergency, they call the Marines. When the marines need more material, tanks, whatever, they call Albany, Georgia. So we're the 911 center for the 911 force for our nation," said Martin.

But if our nation's President agrees to close the base September 8th, Dougherty County has a plan B-- to turn the base into an industrial park. But it's a plan alliance members are fighting to never see.

Alliance for Progress members are meeting with the Governor March 28th to explain plans for saving the base and for re-using the base if it's closed.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com