Murkowski visits Fort Greely

Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Gov. Frank Murkowski visited Fort Greely and said he's impressed with the work being done on the missile defense project.

Murkowski on Monday also toured the Fort Greely School and got a look at one of the new Army Stryker vehicles.

After the tour, the governor told reporters he was impressed by the progress at the defense installation site, also known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) installation, and said it would bring positive changes to the nearby community of Delta Junction.

This is really what the concept of one bullet meeting another is all about,'' Murkowski said. It clearly is a first line of defense.''

Military officials say about 350 families will live on the post and another 300 families of support personnel will be housed in the community when the installation is operational in late 2005.

Community leaders took the opportunity to tell Murkowski about the negative side of the impacts, including a housing shortage and the need for a new school in Delta Junction.

Others at the meeting included Gen. Craig Campbell, the new Alaska adjutant general and commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Delta/Greely School District Superintendent Dan Beck said the governor was given the message from the city, school district and the military that it may be in the best interest of everyone to give Fort Greely School to GMD when new classroom space is constructed in Delta.

Fort Greely School is expected to open in August for middle school students. It closed in May 2000 on the eve of the base realignment.

The school district is looking for about $6 million to supplement GMD-impact and other funding for school construction in Delta. The new buildings would replace the classroom space at Fort Greely and eventually the aging buildings in Delta.

Delta city manager Pete Hallgren and Mayor Roy Gilbertson also used the opportunity to seek help on the remainder of a $1 million settlement the city owes because of a lawsuit from the failed prison project.

Hallgren told Murkowski that the city can handle his proposed budget cuts, except for the lingering spectre of the settlement. Last year the Legislature passed a measure to loan money to Delta to pay the settlement, but it was vetoed by Gov. Tony Knowles.

We're going to get an update,'' Murkowski said of the lawsuit.

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