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‘Last chance’ for community to impact Army’s decision on Fort Polk

Last Modified: Saturday, August 09, 2014 2:05 PM

By Lauren Manary / American Press

The U.S. Army won’t make its final decision on whether to slash troop numbers at Fort Polk until late spring, but the time to act is now, said Michael Reese, chairman of Fort Polk Progress.

The group, formed in response to cuts made at the installation in 2006, has spent time developing strategies to prevent significant troop reductions at the post. It has also promoted and marketed the local area and Fort Polk and worked to improve military families’ quality of life.

In 2012, Fort Polk Progress persuaded the Army to only take 240 soldiers instead of the proposed 3,500. Much of that success can be attributed to the community response the Army received during its public comment period, Reese said.

The comment period for the latest proposed troop reduction will end on Aug. 26. No responses will be accepted after that date.

Reese said the group’s petition and letter-writing campaign have surpassed last year’s participation. He said it’s “vitally important” that people get the Army’s attention.

Regardless of the outcome in the latest round of cuts, Fort Polk could still see a reduction in soldiers when the Army goes from a force of 450,000 to 420,000. But Reese said public participation won’t affect the Army’s decision during that time. “One of the things we want people to understand is that this is your last chance,” he said. “This is the last chance to have your voice heard.”

Fort Polk Progress will hold a Cafeteria Conversation 5-9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 11, in North Polk Elementary School as part of its education initiative in Vernon Parish.

Reese said the group has hired an economist to study how the five-parish area and how Vernon and Beauregard parishes would be affected by a troop reduction. He said the group will likely hold a public meeting to discuss the economist’s results.

Posted By: Loureen Plush On: 8/12/2014

Title: Carver Elememtary Computer manager

I think it is very important to Vernon and Beauregard parishes to stop the reduction of Fort Polk. Fort Polk has been a good neighbor and support to our communities. Love our solders.

Posted By: Sam Hill On: 8/9/2014

Title: Good luck

This base is in a state that is governed by a Republican Governor,,,I hope it stays open.

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