WV National Guard improvements planned - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV National Guard improvements planned

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Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General James Hoyer announced two upcoming projects for the 130th Airlift Wing.

"The construction of a training airstrip in Logan and a new bridge in Charleston are examples of our commitment to do everything within our power to keep 1,100 members of the 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia National Guard in the Mountain State," Tomblin said in a news release. "These men and women serve both at home and abroad – from offering assistance during disasters to defending our country overseas."

Tomblin said the two projects are a step in ensuring the future of the 130th as well as providing first-rate training opportunities.

"Our soldiers and airmen are the heart and soul of our organization," Hoyer said in a news release. "Losing the 130th Airlift Wing is not an option.

"We have worked with local communities on the Coonskin Park Bridge and with Alpha Natural Resources and Natural Resource Partners on the Camp Branch landing strip project to ensure our installations meet requirements identified by BRAC."

Hoyer said the 130th is responsible for bringing more than $89 million in federal dollars into West Virginia's economy.

The federal Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, report recommended in 2005 that the 130th Airlift Wing be closed. The report also noted areas in need of improvement, including a practice airstrip and a more secure base.

The 130th has been using the former Camp Branch mine site in Logan County for air drop training on a near-weekly basis for the past two years.

The bridge project is expected to be finished within two years.