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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Fort Leonard Wood community encouraged to comment on possible job cuts

  • Fort Leonard Wood could lose 5,400 jobs in the next few years, but that decision is not final.
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  • Fort Leonard Wood could lose 5,400 jobs in the next few years, but that decision is not final.
    Until Aug. 25, the public has the opportunity to provide feedback on the 2014 Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) that found these job cuts would have no significant impact on the region.
    As of Aug. 15, the U.S. Army has received 537 responses from the Fort Leonard Wood community. With less than ten days to go, local organizations, city governments, and individuals are asking for the public to submit comments in regards to the impact of Fort Leonard Wood on its surrounding areas.
    Rick Morris of Sustainable Ozarks Partnership (SOP), a non-profit organization that advocates for the growth and support of Fort Leonard Wood, is calling on everyone in the region to submit responses in order to help reduce the chances of job cuts taking place at Fort Leonard Wood. SOP aims to receive at least 2,100 responses.
    “We are just over ten days from the deadline for submitting correspondence regarding the SPEA and our response is no way near where we should be,” Morris said. “Folks, this is incredibly important and critical to our future.”
    Army 2020
    In 2012, the U.S. Army set plans to reduce its forces from 562,000 soldiers to 490,000 soldiers by fiscal year 2020. As a part of this, the 2013 SPEA looked at 21 different bases, including Fort Leonard Wood, for potential adjustments.
    In March, 2013, the SPEA showed that eliminating up to 3,900 civilian and military jobs on Fort Leonard Wood would have no significant impact on the region, and called for public comment on the matter.
    More than 1,000 people filled Nutter Field House in April 2013 to encourage the Army to reconsider its findings and to urge that this region wants to support the growth of Fort Leonard Wood, not its reduction.
    SOP reported that 2,300 responses were written to the Army’s call for public comment on its force reduction plans in the Fort Leonard Wood area.
    As a result of the strong responses to the study, the U.S. Army changed its plans to cut 1,200 positions from Fort Leonard Wood, instead of 3,900.
    “The overwhelming attendance by the public and SOP’s briefing at the listening session last year had a positive impact on the Army’s decision,” Joe Driskill , SOP executive director said.
    More job cut possible
    In June 2014, the U.S. Army announced that current budgetary projects are forcing additional job cuts.
    The U.S. Army now plans to reduce its forces to 420,000 soldiers, assessing the reduction of an additional 70,000 soldiers by 2020. Nearly all Army installations will be affected in some way by additional reductions.
    Page 2 of 2 - This could mean that in 2020, only 3,761 permanent party soldier and Army civilian positions would be left on Fort Leonard Wood. In 2011, 9,161 permanent party soldier and Army civilians were on the post.
     
    SOP estimates that these cuts would cause a significant economic impact on Pulaski, Phelps, Laclede and Texas County. SOP projects that the cuts would take 13 percent of jobs in the region. Retail sales could drop 12 percent because of the job cuts ,and there would be a nine percent loss of population throughout the region.
     
    Call to action
    Public comments can be submitted directly to the Army using the SOP website. The official Army address for public comments and example letters pertaining to Fort Leonard Wood can also be found on the SOP website. Community members can also send email comments directly to the Army using the following email address: usarmy.jbsa.aec.nepa@mail.mil.
     
    “I know that a lot of folks will wait until the last few days to submit their comments, but we need you to now, Morris said. “I have talked to some people who say "why are you wasting your time? The Army has already made up it's mind on the cuts" to them and another naysayer, I say this: What if you knew for sure that your letter could make a difference? Would you take the five minutes out of your day to stand up and show your support for our Community? If you answered yes, the solution is simple, I am urging you to go to the www.sustainableozarks.org and make your voice be heard. It will make a difference!"
     
     

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