Illinois is trying to head off military base closures before they’re threatened. The state’s Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee works to keep the military happy in its locations: Scott Air Force Base, the Rock Island Arsenal and Great Lakes Naval Base. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon says you never know when the federal government will re-assess its military facilities.
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“As we anticipate that the federal government will be looking at additional base closures that our bases are as fully supported as they can be, and fully integrated with the local economy, so the federal government knows it’s getting a lot of mileage for their dollars that they’re spending here,” she said. The committee was formed in 2005. Simon, who is the chairman, just appointed seven citizen members to the committee. The military bases bring $4 billion into the state’s economy annually, according to the lieutenant governor’s office. In the last 25 years, the Department of Defense has closed Chanute AFB in Rantoul, Glenview Naval Air Station, Fort Sheridan in Highwood, Savanna Army Depot, the Joliet Arsenal and the Charles M. Price Support Center in Granite City.
The new citizen appointees to the committee:
Col. Gene Blade of Springfield, a retired Army colonel. He was the United States Property and Fiscal Officer of Illinois from 1980-1994.
Joel Himsl of Moline, garrison manager at the Rock Island Arsenal.
Gary Gray of Granite City, executive director at the foundation office at Southwestern Illinois College.
Frank Miles (pictured) of Edwardsville, business development manager for America’s Central Port, part of which used to serve as the Charles Melvin Price Army Support Center.
Jimmy C. Morgan of Rock Island, program director for the Rock Island Arsenal Development Group, which is performing business development work on Rock Island Arsenal.
Brigadier Gen. Frank Rezac of Peoria, who retired in 2003 after a lifetime of service in the Air National Guard.
Lawrence M. Walsh of Elwood, a former state senator and currently Will County executive since 2004.