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Small Group Rallies to Save Niagara Falls Air Base

By Mark Scott

Rochester, NY – About 20 people from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station traveled to Rochester yesterday to send a message to the President to keep the base open.

The Niagara Falls contingent held up signs as the presidential motorcade passed. The signs read, "Support the Troops, Keep Niagara Open." But Merrell Lane of the Niagara Military Affairs Council admits they were a bit too far away to have an impact. So, he said he hopes others sent a message to the President about the importance of keeping the base open. Congressman Tom Reynolds, who joined Bush aboard Air Force One for the trip to Rochester, said he was planning to deliver that message. Lane said that's key.

"I think it's important that the President is informed of what's going on at Niagara," Lane said. "To have a personal conversation with a local congressional representative is very important."

It's been nearly two weeks since it was announced that the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is slated for closing. Since then, Lane and others have been mobilizing to reverse that decision. He says he's growing more optimistic.

"As time goes by, we're proving our case more and more to the Department of Defense," Lane said. "In the end, we hope we'll be okay."

Ironically, members of the 914th Airlift Wing, based at Niagara Falls, guarded Air Force One while it was on the ground in Rochester.