Talks of base closings cause new worries

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by Mike Gooding, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on March 14, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 14 at 8:40 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH--There are new worries about the possibility of military base closings. 

Eight years ago, the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission almost shattered Oceana, when the panel voted to send the base’s 18 strike fighter squadrons and 14,000 workers to Jacksonville,  Florida.

The Department of Defense has requested that the BRAC process be re-started in fiscal year 2014, with two rounds of closings and realignments to take place in 2015 and 2017.
    
House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman isn’t sold on the idea.
 
In Washington Thursday, Wittman called a meeting of his committee to question D.O.D. officials about the need for BRAC.
 
“Logically and rationally, there doesn’t appear to be a reason why we should do it now, especially in light of these other uncertainties,” Wittman told 13News, referring to ongoing concerns about sequestration.
   
Among those people most concerned are small business owners like Carla Hesseltine.  She owns Just Cupcakes, located about a mile from the northeast corner of the Oceana runway.
 
“For my business, butter will go up, sugar will go up, and that’s a momentary inflation, and I can deal with it. But, something like BRAC would change my business. It would change it for the worse and I would not be able to recover from it. The loss in revenue, the loss in our safety, and especially the loss in our workforce. We can’t absorb that,” said Hesseltine.
   
Testifying at today's  readiness sub-committee hearing were John Conger, Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense- Installations and Environment; Kathleen Ferguson, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force-Installations, Environment and Logistics; Katheine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army- Installations, Energy and Environment; and Roger Natsuhara, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy- Energy, Installations and Environment.

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