Pentagon cuts to impact local jobs, local businesses

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Chicopee military base that pumped more than $200 million into the local economy last year, is facing massive cuts from the federal government.

“We’re going to remain here, we’ll keep doing our mission, it’ll just be a bit smaller,” Brigadier General Steven Vautrain said.

Air Force officials announced Monday, Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee will gradually shrink in size. Public Affairs Officer Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe said, “This is a difficult day for all of us.”

Half of the C-5 fleet will be moved to San Antonio, TX, and about 300 full-time airmen and reservists will lose their jobs, but these cuts will not take effect until October of next year.

The cuts are part of a new defense strategy and the Budget Control Act’s requirements to cut $487 billion from the defense budget over the next eight years.

Brigadier General Steven Vautrain told 22News he’s confident the base will continue to carry out an average of 100 missions a year with just 8 C-5’s and fewer people.

However, neighboring restaurant owners on Westover Road aren’t so sure if they will continue to see a booming business.

Aurora Bradway, who owns Aurora’s Pizzeria, said, “Hopefully they’ll change their minds by the time next year comes, but it’s really sad to see 300 jobs gone. Come next year, it’s going to be really slow and it’s really sad.”

Just down the road, Holly Warren from HomeStyle Cafe said, “For my understanding I thought Westover was one of bigger bases with C-5’s. For them to be taking 8 planes out of here, it’s definitely, I don’t understand it, why.”

Most jobs being cut are equipment maintenance jobs.

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