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Pataki, Other Elected Leaders Ask BRAC Commission to Keep Falls Base Open

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The fight to keep the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station open kicked into high gear Monday as the Base Realignment and Closure Commission held its regional hearing at UB'S Center for the Arts.

Governor Pataki kicked off the testimony. He said the Falls base has a $150 million economic impact and that closing the base would cut almost 3,000 jobs. Pataki says that would be devastating to the region.

"Based both on its tremendous importance to the people of Western New York and its military value, I strongly urge the commission to reject the proposed closure of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station," Pataki said.

Also testifying at the hearing was Richard DeWitt of the Niagara Military Affairs Committee. He says the Falls base is a modern, efficient operation that should serve as a national model for other bases. DeWitt says closing the Falls base would create severe implications for military recruitment and retention.

"As you will see from their retention and re-enlistment numbers, even in war time, they are staying the course and serving with pride," Dewitt said.

Those testifying say the Pentagon failed to follow its own criteria by placing the Falls base on the closure list.