Niagara Gazette

Opinion

November 26, 2012

HIGGS: Time to salute the folks at NIMAC

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — That is until earlier this year when the threat loomed again with the announcement of the loss of one thousand jobs at the facility. Once again local government leaders came to the rescue with U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Hochul bringing the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to the base for a first-hand look and his statement of commitment to the facility.

In between all this crisis management, Lane and John Cooper spent countless hours raising funds to offset the costs relative to their mission and keeping the status quo of the organization up and running.

NIMAC attends deployments and homecomings of area military members. They make annual visits to Washington and Albany to keep elected and military leaders informed of their needs and activities. They have strong connections to the local community who have rallied to assist them in keeping the base open during the tumultuous times. I recall standing along Lockport Road one year with hundreds of others waving a flag and holding a sign opposing the possible base closure as the cars drove by on their visit of determination. Over 126,300 letters of support from the community were collected, the most for any base in the nation.

They are part of a 16-member board of directors which meets quarterly to offer assistance in sponsoring events such as the Thunder of Niagara Open House and Air show. They have also hosted visits by the USAF Tops in Blue and help provide Honor Guards for community events. NIMAC sponsors a Family Readiness Center, annual DWI Student Education, community blood drives and assists in the U. S. Postal Service Food Drive.

NIMAC members are proud of their accomplishments for the Niagara Air Reserve Station which is the largest employer in Niagara County counting over 3,500 full- and part-time personnel. Over the past 16 years of their existence there have been over $200 million in improvements at the base.

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