Mayor tapped for BRAC group

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mayor Bobby L. Ralph is one of several local lawmakers tapped Saturday by Gov. Mark Warner to serve on the South Hampton Roads BRAC Working Group.

The group, tasked with addressing the Naval Air Station Oceana recommendations issued on August 24th by the 2005 BRAC Commission, includes mayors, state lawmakers and business officials from across Hampton Roads.

&uot;Our military installations in South Hampton Roads are critical to our nation’s security, and are the lifeblood of the region,&uot; said Warner. &uot;As a result of the 2005 BRAC process, we face unprecedented challenges, particularly in maintaining a Master Jet Base at NAS Oceana that will require solutions that are good for individual homeowners and the community as a whole.&uot;

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Ralph, along with other local lawmakers from the region, met briefly with Warner, after the recent ceremony announcing the opening of the new Emergency Management Training, Analysis and Simulation Center.

&uot;The governor noted that this is not just a Virginia Beach problem,&uot; he said. &uot;The realignment of Oceana, through the ripple effect, would have a serious impact on the whole area.

&uot;We need to do what we can to save Oceana from the realignment,&uot; he said.

&uot;What happens at Oceana will have some bearing on the city of Suffolk.&uot;

Although Virginia Beach has not announced an official plan, Suffolk lawmakers informally agreed to support that city’s course of action.

Warner’s working group will be led by Sen. Ken Stolle of Virginia Beach, who will serve as chair; and Owen B. Pickett of Virginia Beach, former congressman and co-chair of Virginia Commission on Military Bases; who will serve as vice chair.

Other members include: Del. Terrie Suit, Virginia Beach; Del. John Cosgrove, Chesapeake; Sen. Yvonne B. Miller, Norfolk; retired U.S. Navy Adm. Fred Metz, Virginia Beach; Daniel E. Baxter, president of the Virginia Beach Council of Civic Organizations; Chesapeake Mayor Dalton S. Edge; Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim; Portsmouth Mayor James W. Holley III; Virginia Beach Vice Mayor Louis R. Jones; Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf; Virginia Beach City Councilwoman Debbie Ritter; Virginia Beach City Manager James K. Spore; and

Macon Brock, chief executive officers of Dollar Tree Stores Inc.

Additionally, the region’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives members Thelma Drake, Randy Forbes, and Bobby Scott, and U. S. Senators John Warner and George Allen;, and Capt. Thomas F. Keeley, commanding officer at NAS Oceana will serve as non-voting, ex-officio members.

Steven B. Sandler of Virginia Beach, owner of L.M. Sandler & Sons, Inc. will also serve as a non-voting member.

&uot;This working group will operate under the auspices of the Virginia Commission on Military Bases, and provide us the knowledge and vision to address the recommendations of the national BRAC Commission in a unified manner,&uot; Governor Warner said.

&uot;We are well aware the BRAC Commission’s recommendations have caused a great deal of anxiety, especially in Virginia Beach,&uot; said the Governor.

&uot;This working group will provide a forum to flesh out a host of issues, and begin to answer many of the questions being asked.&uot;