A Massachusetts task force charged with saving the state's military bases launched its spring tour Monday in Western Massachusetts.
The panel will be traveling throughout the state this month educating the public about who they are and how to make military bases in the state viable for the long-term future.
"Even more than the funding, it's the expertise and the collaboration in the agencies that get together to find creative solutions and that has been a key difference," said Col. Ken Lambrich, the 104th Fighter Wing vice commander.
Lambrich says a visit from the state's military assets and security strategy task force is great for Westfield.
Even with possible aircraft reductions at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Lambrich says he's optimistic about its future.
"It doesn't impact our presence in our community, our mission, our overall long-term viability," he said. "We are the key defensive installation for the East Coast of the United States and there are no talks that we have heard of that changing in the foreseeable future."
The task force was in Westfield on Monday spreading its message and to help communities find out how to enhance their bases' missions.
"We are doing these sessions and we will do as many as we need to so people stay engaged," said Adam Freudberg, advisor to the governor.
The force was formed two years ago to protect the six military installations in the state. It's backed by a $177 million bond bill that passed last year.
"This is the first of the events to indicate what they are going to do with the money, so we are very thankful that the governor and the legislature brought the bond bill over the finish line, and we are ready to get ready with construction," said Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik.
Barnes Air National Guard Base is in line to get about $9 million to improve its runway.
There will be a meeting in Chicopee about Westover Air Reserve Base on May 27.
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