Wednesday, March 1, 1995

Northwest Florida Daily News

Location: Fort Walton Beach, Florida

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Northwest Florida Daily News (Newspaper) - March 1, 1995, Fort Walton Beach, Florida .1 « íHitVu'íjj WEATHER TODAY Mostly cloudy. High mid-60s; low mid-40s. North wind 10 to 15 mph/2A. NEWS INSIDE Hospital lease signed, official says PAGE 1B Alexander sets out on campaign run PAGE 3A WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, 1995 Daily INDEX Business...............6B Calendar...............2C Classifieds.............5D Comics..................6C Crossword.............9B Dear Abby.............2C Editorials...............4A Food.....................1C Local News...........IB Movies...................SB Obituaries............10B Public Record.......2B Sports....................1D TV Schedule.........9B f 4 section*, 40 pages Fort Wallon Baach, Fla. Copyright* 1995. The DaHy N«ws NORTHWÉST FLORIDA 500 Base closings Eglin flies through BR AC flak Closures actually a benefit ■ Rather than face a massive loss of programs and jobs ; the base would see hundreds of new workers added. INSIDE ■ Florida stands to gain 4,500 jobs under the BRAC plan/6A. ■ Skepticism and joy surround the latest numbers on the closure and realignment proposal/6A. ■ Whiting Field is on the good side of the list/ 6A. By BRUCE ROLFSEN Daily News Staff Writer EGLIN AFB -There was more good news than bad news when Eglin Air Force Base officials Tuesday revealed what the Pentagon had drawn up as its proposition to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Rather than face the massive loss of weapons programs and jobs that had long been feared for Eglin, the base would see hundreds of new workers added. "It's a lot better than it is was expected to be a year ago," said freshman Congressman Joe Scarborough, R-Pensacola. Scarborough's re-election hopes could have dimmed with a severe military loss. If the recommendations go through, Eglin would gain 668 military and civil service posts from transferring the headquarters of the Air Force Operational Testing and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) at _ Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., to Eglin, said Robert Arnold, Eglin's civilian chief of corporate plans. Arnold couldn't say how many contractor jobs would come with AFOTEC. An AFOTEC spokesman said the headquarters now employs 130 civil-_ ian workers. The bad news for Eglin is the loss of some of its Electromagnetic Testing Environment duties to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Arnold said. Sent to Nellis would be 52 federal jobs, and 86 contractor slots would be lost. Neither change will come soon. Even if Congress approves the moves, it could be two to sue years before the transition is completed. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Miami Lakes, said the head-to-head tussle with California politicians for the life of Eglin never materialized. "Our approach was we didn't want politics to play If the recommendations go through, Eglin would gain 668 military and civil service posts from transferring the headquarters of the Air Force Operational Testing and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) at Kirtland Air Kerne Base, N.M., to Eglin, said Robert Arnold, Eglin's civilian chief of corporate plans. GAINS Changes mean 700 new jobs By BRUCE ROLFSEN Daily News Staff Writer EGLIN AFB - Relocating the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center here would give Eglin its fourth major unit and upward of 700 new jobs. Eglin officials see the BRAC recommendations and proposed AFOTEC move as proof the Air Force wants to solidify its testing programs at a few centers, including Eglin. "We're pleased that this com- Offlcer Enlisted Civilian Contractor Source: United Slates Air Force prehensive analysis ... conclusively demonstrated Eglin's extraordinary military value to the Air Force and to the nation," said Robert Arnold, the civilian chief of Eglin's Corporate Plans Office. AFOTEC won't be coming here without a struggle from the folks Daily News/CRAIG TERRY of Albuquerque, N.M., where AFOTEC is headquartered at Kirtland Air Force ifose. "Of course we're going to fight the move," ('said Hanson Scott, director of aviation for the city of Please see CHANGES/7A Testing facility Nevada-bound By BRUCE ROLFSEN Daily News Staff Writer EGLIN AFB — The testing of electronic coun-termeasures at Eglin Air Force Base will be cut back if the Department of Defense's proposals to the Base Re- _ _ Perry says closings to save $6 billion ■ But critics say the Pentagon is underestimating how much money can be saved. By MICHAEL E. RUANE Knight-Ridder Newspapers WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary William Perry said Tuesday that the Pentagon would save an estimated $6 billion a year by 2001 from the four rounds of base closings it has proposed since Daily Nawa/MARK KULAW Eglin AFB will los« 10 of Its 46 Electronic Combat System sites, represented by this one on Okaloosa Island, when they move to Nellis AFB, Nev., as a result of BRAC. alignment and Closure Commission eventually become law. However, many of Eglin's electronic testing jobs and facilities such as Pre-flight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems building would stay, Eglin officials said Tuesday. The ex- - pertise is needed to research the effect of radars on weapons being developed at Eglin. The Pentagon had recommended that Eglin hand over to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., the Please see TESTINQ/7A However, many of Eglin's electronic testing jobs and facilities such as Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems building would stay, Eglin officials said. 1988. Perry said the savings were "absolutely crucial" to cover the costs of modernizing the military in the post-Cold War era and at a time of tight federal budgeting. But outsiders worry about how much of the money the military can really count on and whether Perry cut deeply enough to pay future bills. Independent authorities say there is solid evidence that the Pentagon may be underestimating closing costs - and overestimating long-term benefits. Perry made the savings estimate as he announced what may be the final round of planned closings — a proposal to eliminate or "realign" 56 major military facilities. The proposals will be reviewed later this year by an independent commission and President Clinton, and voted on by Congress after that. Critics say much of the savings may prove illusory as the Defense Department struggles to cover the costs of shutdown, transition and environmental cleanup at the bases. The hundreds of base closings and realignments Please see PERRY/8A Perry said the savings were "absolutely crucial" to cover the costs of modernizing the military in the post-Cold War era and at a timé of tight federal budgeting. senator said. "When Florida up we wanted them judged a role in this," the military bases came fairly." Eglin wasn't the lone Northwest Florida base recommended for growth. Also on the list were Tyndall Air Forge B»se, Panama City; The Navy's Whiting Field, Milton; Pensacola Naval Air Station; and Naval Coastal Systems Center, Panama City Beach. The Pentagon's advice will be pondered by the BRAC panel until July 1, when the presidentially appointed board has to turn over its list to the president and Congress. In 1991 and 1993, BRAC panels agreed with about 90 percent of the Pentagon's propositions. Congress has until Oct. 1 to approve or kill the entire 199S list. February 28-Pentagon reveals its recommendations to BRAC panel. April ; panel visits affected bases and holds regional public hearings. last day forBRAC panel to add bases to closure list. to submit Its list to President Clinton. Within two weeks the president must either forward the list to Congress or veto Congress tovoti on BRAC list. Congress has to vote on the list as one item. Individual basas can't be removed. Source United Stata* Air Forca Daily Newi/CfVUO 1UWV Senate puts balanced-budget amendment vote on hold After feverish negotiations for one wavering senator, Majority Leader Bob Dole decided to postpone the vote rather than risk defeat. WASHINGTON (AP) - In an atmosphere of excruciating tension, Senate Republicans forced an overnight delay Tuesday for a final vote on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. One vote shy, GOP leaders struggled to salvage the centerpiece of their drive to shrink government. Both sides wooed one wavering Democrat, Kent Conrad of North Dakota. After feverish negotiations, Majority Leader Bob Dole decided to postpone the vote rather than risk defeat. Senators said the discussions focused on a Republican offer to place Social Security trust funds off-limits to deficit cutters gradually over several years. INSIDE ■ How Sens. Meek and Graham feel about the amend-ment/SA. "This is a sad spectacle," said the amendment's principal foe, Democrat Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia. "This has every appearance of a sleazy, tawdry effort to win a victory at the cost of amending the Constitution." But Dole said the vote was the most important in the careers of piany members of the Senate, and that majority Republicans have every right to see if they can find the votes to prevail. "And I intend to do that" His announcement stunned a chamber packed with senators ready to cast their votes after an epic, month-long battle on the Senate floor. Aides ringed the back of the chamber and tourists peered down from the galleiy as the final showdown was unexpectedly put off. The decision to delay was by voice vote. President Clinton, who opposes the amendment, watched on television as events unfolded on the Senate floor, said White House press secretary Mike McCurry. He said Clinton met with White House chief of staff Leon Panetta and planned to call wavering senators. The amendment, already ap proved by the House, would require a balanced budget by 2002, unless three-fifths of both houses voted otherwise. Earlier in the day, Republicans coughed up a last-minute concession barring federal judges from ordering tax hikes or spending cuts to balance the budget, and pocketed two Democratic votes in return. Still short of the support neces-sary to prevail, they negotiated for Please see HOLD/5A