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Cumberland York Area Local Defense Group meets with the Dauphin County Commissioners

A group supporting the midstate’s military installations wants to add Dauphin County support to its ranks.

The commissioners were asked Wednesday to join the Cumberland York Area Local Defense Group, which is advocated on behalf of the Carlisle Barracks, Army War College, Defense Logistic Agency’s Distribution Center Susquehanna in New Cumberland and Naval Support Activity Center of Mechanicsburg.

The group formed a year-and-a-half ago, and is being proactive in the event another round of Base Realignment and Closures happens in 2017, said Neal Delisanti, director of Cumberland County Veterans Affairs. In the meantime, concerns include potential cuts through sequestrations and budget reductions, he said.

The Cumberland York Area group, a 56-member panel, is one of six local defense groups in the state. The others are for Letterkenny Army Depot in Franklin County, Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon, Tobyhanna Army Depot in Monroe and Wayne counties, and installations in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas.

Dauphin County was asked to name a representative to the panel.

Jeff Haste, chairman of the commissioners, asked why there isn’t one group for the central Pennsylvania region, including Letterkenny and Fort Indiantown Gap, noting that they are linked by I-81.

Delisanti said that in the past, some of the local groups were more organized than others. “We suffered in this area of not being well organized,” he said.

Jonathan Bowser, CEO of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., said New Cumberland Army Depot alone has a $340 million economic impact on the region. It has a $132 million impact on Dauphin County, and 40 percent of the workforce of 2,500-3,500 live in the county.

Former Gov. Tom Corbett established the established Pennsylvania Military Protection Commission, which allows for a federal caucus to advocate for the state’s military installations.

The panel is also touting the midstate’s importance to the military. “What we are trying to convey to BRAC is the importance of our local south-central community to the military mission,” said Al Bienstock, a Hampden Township commissioner who is a member of the group.

He said the region offers employees with a great work ethic, a hub of transportation, railroad and air access, great schools and low cost of living.

This article was posted on Pennlive.com on March 11, 2015

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