Hagan: OLF not an option for N.C.

Published 7:42 am Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CAMDEN, N.C.— It’s always nice to have powerful allies in powerful places.

As Gates County officials and citizens continue their battle in preventing the U.S. Navy from possibly building an aircraft practice facility in the Sand Banks region of the county, they do have a friend in U.S. Sen. Kay R. Hagan.

Last week, Hagan visited the region to hold a roundtable discussion with residents, community leaders and concerned citizens to discuss their opposition to an Outlying Landing Field (OLF) in northeastern North Carolina.

Hagan, who has long been opposed to the OLF, is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over the proposed OLF sites.

The meeting was held at the Camden County Courthouse and attended by nearly 50 individuals, including Gates County Commissioners Kenneth Jernigan and Graham Twine along with Gates County Manager Toby Chappell.

“I came to Camden County today so I can hear your stories and take them back to Washington with me and explain to my colleagues why placing the OLF here is just not an option,” Hagan said. “Locating the OLF here will not only impact your quality of life, but will also reduce your home values and prevent further economic growth and prosperity. This is not about you being inconvenienced. This is about your way of life and your livelihood being threatened.”

Hagan was joined in the roundtable discussion by seven residents of Camden and Gates counties who have been active in their efforts to prevent the Navy from locating the OLF in northeastern North Carolina.

“She heard what we had to say; everybody talked about something different, the things unique to their area that would be affected if the OLF comes,” Commissioner Jernigan said.

From Gates County’s side of the issue, Jernigan said the discussion centered on the quality of life enjoyed by its citizens; the beauty of the Chowan River; and treasured family values.

Navy officials are studying five possible sites for the OLF. In addition to Gates and Camden counties, the Navy has a trio of southeastern Virginia (Southampton, Sussex and Surry counties) on its short list.