Backers of Yuba base applaud community, await Pentagon list
With Friday the 13th looming on the calendar, Tim Johnson sat at his desk Tuesday with heartburn remedies close at hand.
The executive director of the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corp., Johnson has battled an upset stomach for days while he waits to learn the fate of Beale Air Force Base.
"You might say there's a sense of heartburn in this process," Johnson said with a laugh, referring to the Base Realignment and Closure process. "You're wearing your emotions on your sleeves."
Humor aside, Beale proponents are trying to remain patient as they wait for for the Pentagon to releases the list of bases it wants realigned or shut down.
"It's almost like taking a deep breath," said Laura Nicholson, executive director of the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce. "I'm waiting for Friday. Bring it on. Let's see what they've got to say."
There are four scenarios for Beale's future: The base maintains the status quo, adds or loses missions, or closes altogether. Beale advocates hope that the base will stay open while adding new missions.
"I think we've done everything we can do," said Nicholson, referring to local efforts to keep the base off the list. "You have to give a lot of credit to the people who got the word out."
Nicholson and Johnson applauded the efforts of local people who signed letters to the governor and attended rallies on behalf of Beale.
"I think we've done a tremendous job in managing our message to 'Save Beale,'" Johnson said. "I want to personally thank everyone who helped in this effort over the last two years."
Johnson waits with interest in large part because Beale's closure would have a huge effect on the Mid-Valley.
"It's an administrative decision that directly impacts the destiny of our community," he said. "Everything we do at this point hinges on this decision."
Beale employs 4,500 military personnel and 1,200 civilians, pouring $1.2 billion annually into an eight-county regional economy.
The list of proposed base closures is set to be released Friday at 7:30 a.m. PDT. At 11:30 a.m., local elected officials, Beale Regional Alliance Committee members and other civic leaders will hold a press conference at the Yuba County Government Center to discuss the list and Beale's future.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, continues to fight for Beale in the halls of Congress, said Fran Peace, Herger's district director. He is fighting for all California bases, but he has a special place for Beale, she said.
"He constantly talks about Beale," she said. "He wants to be sure that other members of have Beale on their radar screen."
Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Witter can be reached at 749-4712. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.