Vernon Parish Police Jury

February 20, 2013

LEESVILLE-The Vernon Parish Police Jury passed two unanimous resolutions Monday, February 19, 2013 concerning possible force reductions at Fort Polk and sequestration.

The first resolution urged the Department of the Army, Congress and the Administration of the United States to include up to date and accurate information in the Programmatic Environmental Assessment regarding Fort Polk before making any decisions on Force Reduction. The resolution was in direct response to the Department of the Army’s pending force structure realignment that would reduce the Army’s total end-strength from 562,000 at the end of fiscal year 2012 to 490,000 by fiscal year 2020.

Vernon Parish President Jim Tuck said, “Fort Polk has already proven itself to play a vital role in national defense. At least half of all soldiers sent to Afghanistan and Iraq went through Fort Polk, La. as their last training grounds before being deployed. Fort Polk will be even more valuable to the Army because of the additional training lands being purchased, recent modernizations to the installation and the economical advantages of operating here. If the  Department of the Army really wants to make the best economical and military essential decision, then Fort Polk will be given the opportunity to grow.”

Vernon Parish Police Jury Secretary/Treasurer Rhonda Plummer said, “In our Police Jury meeting held on Monday, February 19, 2013, we passed two critical resolutions dealing with the future of our local, state and even our nationwide economy. The first resolution was in response to the erroneous information contained in the Programmatic Environmental Assessment regarding Army force structure reductions and realignments that could occur from 2013-2020. This resolution included all of the public comments that have been compiled in response to the erroneous information. We hope that these efforts along with the joint efforts of the local community, the region and the entire State, will convince the Department of Army to allow the PEA to include the up to date and accurate information regarding Fort Polk to demonstrate the true value of Fort Polk to the military as well as the economic impact Fort Polk has on the local economy and the entire State of Louisiana.”

The jury forwarded the resolution to the Louisiana Congressional Delegation, all other parishes in the state, the  Police Jury Association of Louisiana and the National Association of Counties, asking for their support on the issue and urging them to follow suit in commenting on the PEA.

The resolution coincides with a letter from the state’s Congressional Delegation to Secretary of the Army John McHugh, detailing in a similar manner the importance of Fort Polk as a cost-effective training facility for the nation’s military.

The Vernon Parish Police Jury’s resolution reinforces to the Department of the Army that a force reduction at Fort Polk would annihilate the local economy and have significant impact upon the state and region’s economy, since Fort Polk is the largest employer in the state.

“It is absolutely imperative that the PEA be revised concerning Fort Polk to include the correct and most up to date information” before the Department of the Amy makes such a critical decision,” the resolution reads.

The second resolution unanimously passed by the Vernon Parish Police Jury on Monday urged Congress and the Administration of the United States to support a balanced, bipartisan approach to solving our federal government’s budgetary issues so that the negative effects of sequestration will not take effect.

According to the resolution, “Sequestration is not only a threat to the future of our nation; it is already impacting our national security, including the aerospace and defense companies that employ our constituents. If Congress takes no action, the negative impacts of sequestration will take effect on March 1. This threat needs to be remedied, in a balanced, bipartisan manner before these negative consequences are triggered.”

Tuck said, “Congress must find a way to work together to reduce our deficit and avoid sequestration. Sequestration is not just about numbers, it is about all of us, it will take a tremendous toll on us all locally and across the nation. If allowed to take place, such across the board cuts would seriously harm not only our local and state economy but the nationwide economy as well. This would be another huge hit to our defense programs, one that our nation’s security cannot afford. “

Plummer said, “Sequestration which will automatically take effect on March 1st if no resolution in reducing the deficit is made by Congress. This would mean that across-the-board spending cuts will begin to take effect – cutting $1.2 trillion from defense and nondefense programs over the next 10 years. We would like to encourage everyone to contact their Congressional Delegation and the Administration in regards to avoiding sequestration. Letters can be sent directly or there is a website available to allow you to send a letter by email at www.secondtonone.org .”

Regional leaders were encouraged by the move by the Vernon Parish Police Jury and took the opportunity to comment as well.

Leesville Mayor Robert Rose said, “I hope that other municipalities, police juries, counties, organizations and individuals will take note of the Vernon Parish Police Jury’s decisive action and follow their example in sending in comments. The City of Leesville certainly intends to do so.”

DeRidder Mayor Ron Roberts said, “Our history has been tied to Fort Polk for more than half a century. Our quiet neighbors at Fort Polk are an essential part of both our culture and our economy. Most importantly, they produce a premier product, a product that is vital to our nation’s defense.”

Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese said, “Like many of the government entities in this area, the Vernon Parish Police Jury has invested heavily in projects to improve the quality of life for soldiers and in support of Fort Polk’s mission at the request of the Army.  I am proud to see the Police Jury take such a public stance in their resolution in support of Fort Polk and in voicing their concern that the Army give Fort Polk the proper consideration based on accurate assessments of its military value.”

England Airpark Executive Director Jon Grafton said, “The Vernon Parish Police Jury has been instrumental in the recent progress and development of Fort Polk. We thank them for their support.”

SWLA Economic Development Alliance President George Swift said, “The SWLA Alliance thanks the Vernon Parish Police Jury for their leadership. Keeping our nation strong and keeping Fort Polk strong is a major issue with us in the southern part of the region.“

Area residents are encouraged to submit their own comments concerning the force structure realignment to USARMY.JBSA.AEC.MBX@mail.mil. A sample letter and other documents, inlcuding the Vernon Parish Police Jury’s resolutions mentioned here can be found at leesville la.gov; www.englandairpark.org; and planvernonparish.org.

Letters concerning the negative impact of sequestration can be sent through www.secondtonone.org .”