Jon Larvick, president/CEO of the Sheppard Military Affairs Committee, spoke about issues facing Sheppard Air Force Base (SAFB) and upcoming events open to the public during the August Membership Luncheon of the North Texas Home Builders Association held Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Kemp Center for the Arts.
He said there are two main areas of importance for the Sheppard Military Affairs Committee: (1) building and maintaining the relationship between the base and the community and (2) maintaining and growing SAFB. He stressed that the base is the area’s largest employer with 20 percent of the workforce and has a tremendous economic impact on the community.
“While you have heard that our military is shrinking, Sheppard is growing. Both maintenance training and pilot training are growing to meet the shortages currently in our military.”
He noted that the base’s 75th anniversary will be Sept. 17 and 18. He also said that ENJJPT (European NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program) is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year at Sheppard.
Larvick said to remember “CPR” when you think of SAFB. “C” stands for “come celebrate with us.” “P” is for the Sheppard Military Affairs Committee Facebook page. “Please like us.” “R” is for RISK!
He explained that the Department of Defense is begging to close bases. “The Department of Defense has 22 percent excess infrastructure including 32 percent excess in the Air Force.” Base closings are a very real possibility. This would have a tremendously negative impact on our community.
“When considering keeping a base open or closing it, they consider land availability, air space availability, and the environment (both physical and political). That list is scary to us.”
He noted that the effect of wind farms on SAFB could be devastating. He advised the audience to look up two websites with opposing views. These are Horn Energy and Clay County Against Wind Farms.
Larvick said wind farms impact air space by causing radar interference. He also said the 450-foot structures affect the flight paths for low flying training missions. “Where proposed, the new wind farms would have caused SAFB to lose 104 training days last year.”
Anyone can logically assume a loss of one-third of the flight training days would cause the Air Force to re-evaluate the role of SAFB and affect the determination of keeping the base open.
Larvick said a hearing on the wind farm issue is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 24 at Midwestern State University, Dillard College of Business, Room 121 at 9 a.m.
The Sheppard Military Affairs Committee will meet to hear invited and public testimony regarding “Maintaining Military Value of Defense Installations and Communities” with an emphasis on the relationship between military installations and wind energy development.
Under this topic, Larvick said issues related to the following Interim Charges will be discussed:
n Explore how encroachment (environmental, technological, and architectural) impacts the vital missions of our military bases in Texas and which policies can be put into place while retaining respect for private property rights, economic growth, and the operation of military facilities.
n Explore adding notifications to the Texas Real Estate Commission Seller Disclosure Form, as well as a notification to buyers of new home construction, in order to inform buyers that a property may be located near a military installation or a military airport and could be affected by high noise or its air installation compatible use zones, or other operations.
n Assess ways the State of Texas can further aid our federal military installations and their communities in order to minimize the negative consequences of a potential forthcoming BRAC round by the federal government.
n Assess the continuing effect and the impact of sequestration and federal defense spending on Texas military bases, soldiers and their families, base communities, and Texas defense contractors. Identify solutions to address issues raised by federal policy.
Anyone with questions regarding the hearing should email Paul.Theobald_HC@house.texas.gov. The Dillard parking garage entrance is located on Hampstead Lane which intersects with Taft Boulevard, and will have available parking. The Committee will hear both invited and public testimony, with public testimony being limited to three minutes.
In other business, Atmos Energy made a presentation concerning “Call Before You Dig.” Sharon Tucker, Randy West and Anthony Bruno said you should call “811” 14 days before you plan to dig to ensure you are not digging into a utility line.
Monarch Catering catered the luncheon attended by approximately 60 persons. The Diamond Sponsor for the North Texas Home Builders Association is Atmos Energy, while the Platinum Sponsors are First National Bank and Guarantee Title.