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New York state legislators sign onto letter supporting Fort Drum

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WATERTOWN - A group of about 85 state lawmakers signed a letter supporting Fort Drum and its current staffing levels.

The letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, dated Tuesday, outlines the threat of cuts to the post, as the Army studies the impacts of wide-scale cuts.

“These reductions are certain to impact every corner of the Army, and it’s not likely that Fort Drum will be exempt,” the letter reads. “But the vast scale of the proposed cuts at Fort Drum — as many as 16,000 troops, by one Army estimate — poses serious risk to the post’s very future.”

The 16,000 soldier and civilian worker figure to be studied includes the projected loss of 1,500 soldiers through the scheduled deactivation of the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

The letter comes after lawmakers approved adding $2 million to its base-retention fund in the new state budget, primarily in support of the post.

It was put together by State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River. Among the regional signatories is Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa.

In advocating for the post, the letter notes the its economic value, including its status as the largest employer in the region. The post has contracts with companies around the state, adding to its value. The letter noted that the counties surrounding the post already have some of the state’s worst unemployment rates, adding to the urgency of keeping local jobs.

The post listed its economic value for 2013 at about $1.42 billion.

In a separate study, the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization estimated that the post had a combined economic impact of about $1.89 billion in 2013, including $1.47 billion in direct spending from the post and $420 million in other jobs and economic development spurred by the post’s activity.

The state lawmakers’ letter can be viewed at http://wdt.me/AV3sXu.

Fort Drum support letter
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