Lawmakers push to save jobs at Westover

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A day after a group of Massachusetts lawmakers met with a senior Air Force leader, 22News discovered if that meeting could potentially save jobs at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.

We’ll lose 334 positions and we will try to keep as many people as we can.

April’s announcement that Westover Air Reserve Base will lose more than 330 positions and half its fleet of C-5 planes wasn’t exactly doomsday for the more than 70 year base, but does create some major concerns.

Congressman Richard Neal other local leaders, including Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos met with the Air Force Secretary on Thursday in Washington.

“She did suggest that the 59 permanent jobs they would places for just about everybody, either at Barnes or at Westover for those jobs,” said Rep. Richard Neal, (D) Massachusetts.

The message that came out of the meeting was that they’re not going to be able to save all the planes or all the jobs, but they wanted to find some sort of compromise.

“Having a private/public partnership like Westover has, I think affords the military the best option for maintaining a successful base, but doing it at a cost-reduced basis,” said Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos.

Eight C-5’s are scheduled to move to Texas by the end of 2015.  Congressman Neal told 22News the Air Force promised to continue the conversation, but at this point it doesn’t appear Westover or Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield are in any danger of being shut down completely.

“It seems unlikely that’s there’s going to be a B.R.A.C. (Base Realignment and Closure), that means if there’s no B.R.A.C.,  there’s no threat to closure,” said Rep. Neal.

Congressman Neal is holding out hope that Governor Patrick’s $166 million military Bond Bill in addition to new construction at Westover and Barnes will end up with both bases growing in the long run instead of cutting back.

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