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Air Force Accepts $5 Million from Utah

Air Force Accepts $5 Million from Utah



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LAYTON, Utah (AP) -- After months tied up in federal red tape, the U.S. Air Force has officially accepted a $5 million gift from the state of Utah.

Utah lawmakers appropriated the funds in hopes of forging a partnership between the state and the military -- proof Utah was willing to throw in with the military to make installations here a success.

A letter offering the $5 million -- which is not cash, but equipment -- was sent May 10, just days before the Pentagon released its base closure list. Only minor changes were recommended at Utah's military bases.

But it took several months for the Pentagon to give the OK for the Air Force to accept the funding.

"When we were at the Pentagon in May, well, they're used to states coming with their hands out," said Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, sponsor of the legislation. "This is somewhat of a strange concept to them to have a state offering $5 million in equipment. They just didn't know how to respond."

Now that they have, the Utah Defense Alliance, a citizen's group that worked to protect Utah bases during the closure and realignment discussions, will begin to purchase the equipment needed to secure base missions, primarily at Hill Air Force Base.

Local officials expect the state contribution to translate into an influx of jobs and a boost to the local economy.

Much of the machinery and equipment purchased will come from local companies and training for employees will likely come from Weber State University in nearby Ogden, and from the Davis and Weber applied technology colleges.

The main boost from this is the income and property taxes coming with the jobs, Killpack said. "With these jobs, the pay scale isn't too shabby."

Salaries are estimated to range from $60,000 to $80,000 annually -- double the state's average annual income.

Tom Miner, director of Air Force programs for Logistic Specialist Inc., a consulting firm working with the alliance, projects about 800 jobs will be added over the next nine months.

About $500,000 of the appropriation will be directed toward Dugway Proving Ground near Tooele, although no specific projects there have been identified.

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Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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