Originally created 05/11/05

Georgia communities await base closure list



WASHINGTON - Lawmakers, lobbyists and community leaders traded rumors Tuesday about the fate of Georgia's military bases, but the Pentagon was keeping the official closure list close to the vest.

Defense officials told Congress to not expect a heads up until after 9 a.m. Friday - just an hour before the anticipated public announcement of which bases are being recommended for closure. But that didn't stop the speculation and rumor - including one hot one circulating Tuesday that as many as three Georgia bases could be on the chopping block.

"Nobody seems to know where they heard it, but everybody seems to have heard it," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

Krister Holladay, chief of staff to Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, said the rumors were running wild but that there was no indication any of them were coming from people who had firsthand knowledge.

"What we've learned is until it's on paper, it's hard to know," Holladay said.

Georgia, home to 13 military bases, has never lost one to a previous base closure round. Most analysts assume that streak will end this time, but the state could still benefit if some of the larger installations such as Fort Stewart and Fort Benning take on extra missions.

The Navy supply school in Athens is one of the smaller bases perceived as vulnerable, but community leaders say they're getting mixed signals.

"I'm hearing good and bad," said Len Sapera of the Navy School Task Force. "It changes every day. I've stopped listening to the rumors."

Bill Dunaway, mayor of Marietta, said he hadn't heard either about the fate of Naval Air Station-Atlanta based there.

"We don't want to lose what we have," he said.