A delegation of local officials and community leaders, organized by the Niagara Military Affairs Council, returned last week from a two-day visit to Washington, D.C., where the group met with federal elected officials and Air Force leadership.
The meetings on Capitol Hill and the Pentagon were organized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Washington, D.C., office. NIMAC and Niagara County are partnering in grants awarded by New York earlier this year to promote growth at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
"This trip was especially important this year due to the many changes that continue to take place within our nation's military, including a change of missions for the 107th Airlift Wing over the next few years," Merrell Lane, NIMAC chairman, said.
The goal of the meetings was to make the elected officials aware of specific needs and challenges facing the NFARS and to hear directly from the nation's military leaders about its long-range plans for bases like Niagara Falls.
John Cooper Sr., NIMAC vice chairman, stated, "as an organization we realize that major decisions made about our base are centered in Washington, D.C., and we need to stay connected with those in government and military leadership."
Participating in the meetings were Lane; Cooper; William "Robin" Pfeil, NIMAC director, Strategic Committee chairman, retired USAF colonel and a former vice commander of the 914th Airlift Wing; Thomas Keough, NIMAC director, retired USAF colonel and a former vice commander of the 107th Air Refueling Wing; Jeffrey Glatz, Niagara County manager, retired lieutenant colonel from the 914th Airlift Wing; David Godfrey, Niagara County legislator, Vietnam veteran, U.S. Marine Corps; Robert Ortt II, North Tonawanda mayor and Army National Guard veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom; Robert Cliffe, Town of Wheatfield supervisor; Marc Smith, Town of Lockport supervisor; Samuel Ferraro, Niagara County commissioner of economic development; and Rachel Lipsey from Cuomo's Washington office.
The group met with several elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, staff from U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's office, Congressman Chris Collins, Congressman Brian Higgins and staff from the Senate Armed Services Committee and Government Accountability Office.
At the Pentagon, they met with Brigadier Gen. Bruce Prunk, special assistant to the director of the Air National Guard; Major Gen. Richard Haddad, deputy to the chief of the Air Force Reserve; Hon. Kathleen Ferguson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics; and William Booth, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force (reserve affairs).
The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is the only USAF base in the state of New York, the largest federal facility in our region and the largest employer in Niagara County. NIMAC has worked on behalf of the NFARS since 1996 in an effort to improve infrastructure and efficiencies. An aggressive long-term strategy for growth has paid off with a modern facility for the future.
Visitwww.nimac.org for more information.