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Local leaders met on future of NC military bases

Concerns about preserving area and state military bases took local leaders to Fort Bragg for a state Military Affairs Commission meeting Tuesday followed by the governor’s trip to Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

The local contingent at the commission meeting included ex-officio member MCAS Cherry Point Commander Col. Chris Pappas III, and voting members Sonny Roberts of New Bern, chairman of the state commission’s base sustainability and community affairs committee, and Havelock City Manager Frank Bottorff, and N.C. District 12 Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, whose district includes part of Craven County.

Also attending the commission meeting from Craven County were Havelock Commissioner and newly elected mayor, Will Lewis, Allies for Cherry Points Tomorrow consultant Marc Finlayson and attorney and lobbyist Jamie Norment.

The meeting was attended by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and Tony Almeida, McCrory’s senior advisor for jobs and the economy. It was the first full Military Advisory Commission meeting since Military Advisor Cornell Wilson, a retired two star Marine general, was installed, and Chairman Mabry ‘Bud’ Martin, retired National Guard brigadier general was appointed and designated chair.

The commission was established within the Office of the Governor by a bill effective Aug. 1, 2013.

Several of those attending said the newly formed commission’s meeting focused more on general organization and procedure than specifics like how to allocate the $1 million appropriated by the legislature for promoting base sustainability.

Any advice McCrory received or messages to top brass from those meeting at Fort Bragg Tuesday was coincidental to the trip scheduled earlier for McCrory to meet with Pentagon officials to discuss the military’s impact on North Carolina.

McCrory said in a release that the trip was to build on existing military community support initiatives such as the commission, Veterans Treatment Court and measures to better connect veterans with jobs.

Accompanied by advisors Wilson and Almeida and N.C. Senate Majority Leader and District 6 Rep. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, McCrory was scheduled to meet with Pentagon officials in the afternoon and attend a bi-partisan state congressional delegation meeting at 6 p.m.

In recent years, state money has assisted local groups like Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow in a local level push to show community support. Those government, business and nonprofit groups often highlighted base location strategic value by supporting things like compatible land and air space use and other military friendly actions.

Those attending said commission members did bring up the need for future meetings to be more open to the public.
 

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