In an attempt to leverage limited federal funding, officials at Youngstown Air Reserve Station in northeast Ohio are considering forming partnerships with a variety of local entities, including Kent State University at Trumbull, Mercy Health System and neighboring municipalities.
“It’s about taxpayer dollars in this day of dwindling budgets, we have to make sure we’re the most economically capable, viable and integrated small base out there,” said Col. James Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing commander.
The installation hosted a planning session on Thursday to discuss prospective partnerships stemming from the Air Force Community Partnership program, an effort to take advantage of a new authority allowing military installations to form partnerships with their host communities to share support services for most municipal functions.
At the top of the list of options is building an enclosed firing range as part of a new training complex for police and firefighters at the Kent State campus. DOD would fund construction of the range, which would be shared by the air station and public entities using the training complex, reported Vindy.com.
Other partnerships discussed include:
- collaborating with Mercy Health hospitals to provide Air Force personnel medical training with real patients instead of relying on simulation;
- providing Air Force personnel training in demolition and operating equipment while helping local municipalities eliminate blighted properties;
- sharing airfield services, such as snow and rubber removal from runways and mowing; and
- adapting course offerings at the Kent State campus to meet the needs of Air Force personnel.
“None of these initiatives are done deals at this point,” but the process is moving forward, Dignan said.
“A lot of hard work has gone into this program to make YARS [Youngstown Air Reserve Station] and communities better,” he added.