Associated Press: SC Base Closure; S.C.'s major military bases to remain open

May 13, 2005
SC Base Closure; S.C.'s major military bases to remain open By SUSANNE SCHAFER Associated Press 13 May 2005 COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina got a vote of confidence from the Pentagon on Friday: Major bases escaped closure and the state was told it would receive more than 700 jobs. "This is a precursor of even better days," said U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. "I see this as an economic boon to the state." Wilson said that while about 1,100 jobs would be lost in the Charleston area, overall additions to Midlands installations such as Fort Jackson, Shaw Air Force Base and McEntire Air National Guard Station would provide a "ripple effect" in the state's economy. Construction, contractors, real estate agents will benefit with the influx of military personnel. Two Marine facilities in the Beaufort area also were spared as well as the Charleston Air Force Base. "The entire state is gaining," said Lt. Col. Pete Brooks, spokesman for the South Carolina National Guard. In total, South Carolina will receive about 1,870 military and civilian jobs. Those will be offset, however, by losses at three Charleston facilities totaling 1,161 jobs. The Defense Accounting and Finance Service, which provides about 370 jobs, will close. It was activated in February 1995 and brought to the old Charleston Naval Base after it was ordered closed in the 1993 round of base closings. The service provides payroll and accounting services for the Department of Defense, said Mary Graham, vice president of public policy for the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. Also on the list for closing was the Naval Facilities Engineering Command's Southern Division, which is scheduled to be relocated from Charleston, uprooting about 550 civilian jobs. The command operates in a leased facility in North Charleston and handles construction management for the Navy on projects in 22 states. "That was the one we had anticipated losing," said Graham. The command handled projects such as reconstruction in Pensacola, Fla., after last year's hurricanes, she said. Another 250 jobs will be transferred from the Charleston Naval Weapons Station. "We don't know just now what they are or where they are going," Graham said. "We're going to be a net gainer," said state Comptroller Richard Eckstrom, who co-chaired the state's efforts to save the bases. "We're at half time, and we're leading." However, Eckstrom cautioned the state not to celebrate just yet. "Over the next three and a half months, every state on that list is going to be working overtime to get off that list and get us on." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was set to present the list of recommended base closings and reorganizations Friday to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The panel has until September to study the list and make changes.