TOP STORY>>LRAFB center close to funding
By SARA GREENE
The National Defense Authorization Act containing $9.8 million for the Little Rock Air Force Base joint-education center passed the House Friday and is expected to pass the Senate before the session ends this weekend, Cong. Vic Snyder said Friday.
Then it will sent to President Bush for his signature.
Jacksonville has pledged $5 million collected from a sales tax towards the construction of the joint-education center.
Groundbreaking on the facility won’t begin until the federally appropriated money reaches the Air Force.
“The joint education center has been a phenomenal project. It really shows the solidarity between “base” and Jacksonville,” said Capt. David Faggard, of the 314th Strategic Information Office.
In recent years, heightened security has limited civilian access to military bases including the education programs offered at Little Rock Air Force Base.
Officials will construct this new educational facility outside the base boundaries along Vandenberg Boulevard and John Harden Drive in Jacksonville so classes can continue to operate without interruption during times of increased security restrictions.
“This project, which will offer increased academic courses to the airmen and women at the base as well as civilians from the area, would not be possible without the strong working relationship between the community and the base,” according to Snyder, who has been a strong advocate for the education center and the base in general. Snyder serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
Six institutions have signed on to offer classes at the new center including Em-bry-Riddle Aeronautical University of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University of Daytona Beach, Fla.; Park University of Park-ville, Mo.; Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, Ill.; Webster University of St. Louis, Mo.; University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University-Beebe.
Study programs include computer science, allied health, aeronautical management, criminal justice, social psychology, industrial technology, business, human relations and public administration.
Priority for class space is active duty military, retired military, Department of Defense employees and then civilians.
More than 1,045 military and 275 civilian personnel are enrolled in educational programs at LRAFB.
“The state-of-the-art education center envisioned by the base and community will provide airmen and civilians unprecedented access to new educational opportunities,” according to Sen. Mark Pryor said.
The $447.6 billion 2007 Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Bill passed both the House and Senate Friday.
This bill funds military personnel, operations and maintenance and purchasing equipment.
“Arkansas is home to vital military installations, as well as a growing, cutting edge research and development industry that will bring our nation’s defense capabilities to new levels.
These investments will enhance our troops’ capabilities, improve their safety and help secure our nation,” Pryor said.
The appropriation bill includes $70 billion in emergency spending to pay for repairing and replacing Army and Marine Corps equipment worn out by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.