Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today, joined by The Adjutant General James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG), local, state and federal leaders, announced two major investments designed to further secure the future of the 130th Airlift Wing of the WVNG in both Kanawha and Logan counties.
"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 1100 members of the 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia National Guard in the Mountain State," Gov. Tomblin said. "These men and women serve both at home and abroad -- from offering assistance during disasters to defending our country overseas. These two projects I announced today are another step forward to ensure our air guard members remain ready for duty and to give them the first-rate training opportunity they need to come back home safely."
"Our Soldiers and Airmen are the heart and soul of our organization," said Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, West Virginia's Adjutant General. "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. The 130th is responsible for bringing more than $89 million Federal dollars to the state's economy, not to mention emergency response for the airport and the surrounding community. These efforts will help ensure the 130th Airlift Wing remains an economic engine, adding value to the communities in which we live, work and serve."
In 2005, the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) report recommended closing the 130th Airlift Wing and noted areas in need of improvement including a practice airstrip, and a more secure base. Now, a private-public land-use agreement between the WVNG, Natural Resource Partners and Aracoma Coal Company will establish a 60 ft. wide, 4,200 ft. long dirt airstrip on the former Camp Branch mine in Logan County for flight practice. For the past two years, the 130th Airlift Wing of the WVNG has been using the former mine site to conduct air drop training on a near weekly basis.
The 130th Airlift Wing base security improvement plan includes closing the current entrance to Coonskin Park, establishing a new park entrance and bridge over the Elk River in the Mink Shoals area of Kanawha County. This project is a collaboration between the state and county commission and is anticipated to be constructed in two years' time.