Port authority approves $25K per year to help keep air base open


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

The Western Reserve Port Authority approved an additional three years worth of support for a Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber-led committee that works to keep the local Air Force Reserve base viable and open.

The port authority board asked a few questions Wednesday first about the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission and how it spends the $25,000 a year the port authority provides.

The authority first approved the money for three years when the commission was formed in 2015.

“I think the $25,000 we spend is the best money we could have spent,” authority member Ron Klingle said. If the federal government eliminates the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, “we [the airport and port authority] go with it.”

Member Sam Covelli, who first raised the question, said he agreed with Klingle. “When I brought it up, I just want to know exactly where the money is going. That’s all,” Covelli said.

Atty. Vito Abruzzino, commission director, said base closures typically occur on the “back end of a lame-duck president,” so if President Donald Trump were re-elected, he would be a lame duck and probably initiate a study of bases in 2023 with closures occurring near 2024.

Abruzzino said the way to stay open is “to get our military value to a point” where it stays open. He noted the base is down from 16 C-130 aircraft to eight.

Abruzzino said when a Base Realignment and Closure study is announced, it’s too late to form a committee to address it.

“You can’t do that anymore. When they hit pause and announce a BRAC, we have to be ready,” he said. “That’s when we’re rated, and that’s what they’re going to look at – where we are at that moment.”

The vote to approve the $25,000 was 7-0 with member Richard Edwards not voting.

Air base commander Col. Daniel Sarachene compared having this committee to an “insurance policy,” saying, “It’s a small amount on the front end to pay big returns on the back end.”

He added, “The support [the commission has] given us has been top notch.”

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