Local, state leaders head to Washington, DC, over military cuts - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Local, state leaders head to Washington, DC, over military cuts

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Hoping to save hundreds of jobs in Chicopee, Mayor Richard Kos and almost the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation met with the secretary of the Air Force in Washington, DC, on Thursday.

Kos says the meeting sent a strong message that the Massachusetts Congressional delegation is engaged as well as the local community in saving not just the military bases in Western Massachusetts but throughout the state.

"I think one of the things that came out of it was having them impressed by how resourceful and how invested the community is in Westover, Barnes, Hanscom and Otis, really invested in our base presence in Massachusetts," Kos said. 

Almost a half billion dollars is expected to be cut from the defense budget over the next eight years, and Rep. Richard Neal is asking that the state's six bases be preserved and strengthened, including Barnes and Westover, which were told last month they may lose half their C-5 galaxy jets, costing them about 330 positions.

"We also suggested that a compliment of the C-5s also could become part of a compromise, meaning we wouldn't have to get them all back, but we would like some of them back," Neal said. 

Neal and Kos both say discussions with Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James will continue.

A final decision is not expected until the end of 2015. While jobs may be cut, Neal says a closure is highly unlikely.

"Fifteen years ago, people were talking about Westover closing. Nobody is talking about that today," he said. 

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