April 17, 2017
- Chad Bell
- Dave Bieter
- Tammy deWeerd
- John Evans
- Nathan Leigh
- Garret Nancolas
- Stan Ridgeway
- Joe Stear
- Darin Taylor
Staff and Guests
- Mike Nolan – Brigadier General, Idaho Air National Guard
- Megan Ronk – Director, Idaho Department of Commerce
- Gary Sayler – Major General, Idaho Air National Guard
- Bill Shawver – Communications Director, Idaho Power
- Bill Larsen – Treasure Valley Partnership
Mayor John Evans welcomed everyone and introduced today’s speakers. He said Stan, Chad, Garret, Nathan and he were on water watch. Nathan added that the Hwy. 95 Bridge over the Boise River is actually a dam at the present time as it is pushing water back. They have a bridge on Sand Creek that almost washed out.
John said that Rafael is running the U.S. Attorney’s office at the moment. Rafael indicated that U.S. Attorney, Wendy Olson resigned at the end of February. By statute, the first Assistant becomes the Acting U.S. Attorney for 210 days. From there, we are waiting for an appointment from the President.
Rafael said he has been with the SAUSA Program from the beginning. It is one of their most successful programs. It is a testament to the Partnership that created this SAUSA Program. Their commitment to the program is as it has been from the beginning. If the U.S. Attorney’s Office hires the SAUSA, they stay with the program till the new person is trained.
They hired Frank Savari a Deputy Prosecuting Atty. from Canyon County. There were but only a half dozen applicants for the position which is a change from days gone by. He was a grad of Gonzaga Law School and has had great training.
The Partnership should be flattered as 31 jurisdictions in Eastern Idaho copied what the TVP did and they now have a SAUSA working in Eastern Idaho. They have been working with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking area program which has provided funding to for Ada, Canyon and Malheur County, Oregon for an attorney to prosecute drug cases. They are trying to get this expanded for Bannock, Bingham, and Bonneville Counties in Eastern Idaho to see if they can get seed money for a task force that would work together with the SAUSA in Eastern Idaho.
Stan said he had read that our President has relaxed gun laws for people with mental health issues. He understands that people with mental health issues and receive social security can purchase guns again. He asked Rafael for clarification. Rafael said the change was a regulation with the Social Security Administration reporting out. For example, if somebody was arrested, they can go back and establish whether the person had a mental health issue. They were trying to alert or flag individuals that were receiving SSI benefits for mental disabilities. The core law didn’t change. It had more to do with what the SSA could do with this information.
Supporting the F-35 Mission
John thanked the General’s, Megan and Bill for joining us. He introduced Major General Gary Sayler who thanked the Partnership for the audience on the F-35 Mission. He said the Air National Guard has been at Gowen Field since 1946. The originally got P-51’s that were left over from WWII and have been flying fighter aircraft ever since.
The air men and women that make up the Idaho Air National Guard work very hard and train non-stop, so much more than the one weekend a month people are familiar with. They support the State during times of emergency and the President when called upon. They have had at least 10 deployments in the last 20 years.
The A-10 has been a valuable airplane and was designed and purchased at the end of the Vietnam War. It was designed specifically to work with folks on the ground and does this very well. It has faced retirement two or three times over the years and faces challenges due to the change in technology over the last 30-40 years.
The F-35 is a tremendous opportunity to go into the newest, most modern and most sophisticated jet in any of the services in the country. If we are selected, we would replace the A-10 with most likely the same number of F-35’s, somewhere between 18 and 24 planes and would begin in 2021 or 2022. They have a total 21 aircraft at the moment.
Gowen Field is 2 of 5 candidate locations that are being selected. They believe the facilities, the hanger, the runways, the taxiways, air space and the ranges are second to none. Additionally, the weather is ideal. Most of the flying they do is south of the Snake River. All the ranges are down there.
Their impact on the community basically occurs during take-off and landing. Currently, with the A-10 they fly 4-6 sorties in the morning as a group. And repeat that in the afternoon around 2:00 pm. They anticipate the same numbers of sorties with the F-35.
Gowen is up against four other locations. Those are: Jacksonville Florida, Montgomery Alabama, Detroit Michigan and Madison Wisconsin. Gowen Field is the only Western U.S. location that is being considered.
A few people have asked why not Mountain Home. This particular decision on basing is only looking at Air National Guard bases. Mountain Home is currently not being considered but will most likely be considered later on when they look at active duty bases.
Megan said you may ask yourself why the Idaho Dept. of Commerce cares so much about the F-35 mission. She views it as a statewide asset. Really, we have a few national assets in the State. We have the Idaho Air National Guard at Gowen, the Airforce Base in Mountain Home, the Idaho National Laboratory in Eastern Idaho and the Port of Lewiston.
The Air Guard has a very important economic impact to the State and the Treasure Valley. We have 1,300 full and part-time employees which are citizens of our communities and they have a direct $155 million economic impact. Insuring the Idaho Air National Guard has long term viability is very important to our State.
Megan said, holistically, the Idaho Air National Guard is the State’s fourth largest employer with 5,255 employees. In her role at Commerce, she and her team is engaged in this as it is important for Idaho.
Bill thanked each of the members for their individual meetings they have had recently. As Megan had said, there will be two preferred locations that will be chosen for the F-35 mission. The Air Force will be out at Gowen Field toward the beginning of June to review the facilities. The fight that will take place will be politically within the beltway.
Bill said the facilities will sell themselves. Continuing to interact with the Federal delegation from Idaho will continue to pay benefits. He asked that each member of the Partnership continue that throughout the selection process.
The other issue we have seen play out in the media in the valley is noise. There is a minority in the valley, on the bench and around the airport that are adamantly opposed to the F-35 Mission. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Whenever the members have an opportunity during your regular course of business to communicate with constituents, he asks that you continue to highlight GowenStrong.com when you can. Using that # Gowen Strong is not specifically focused on the F-35 and what may happen this year, but the continued viability of Gowen Field going forward.
One of the challenges we continue to address day in and day out, is the number of people that support this silently think they don’t have to do anything. Unfortunately, the people that show up are vocal and opposed and those that support the F-35 are not voting publically. Encouraging people to step out and show support through social media channels and newsletters is something that will weigh heavily with the Air Force as they move forward with the selection process.
Tammy passed out a resolution and other items the City of Meridian is doing to support this effort. She highlighted a guest opinion she had drafted and would like the Partnership collectively to sign and send to local print media outlets. Lastly, she showed a letter they are sending to our Congressional Delegation.
John wondered if there is something we can collectively do that will coincide with the Air Force visit scheduled for June 5-9.
General Sayer indicated they had planned to ask if we hosted a rally or something like that at Gowen Field, would the review team attend. They just don’t know yet.
Dave said he agreed with General Sayer that it is not just a sprint to June, but the decision may not come till the fall or even the beginning of next year. Garret added that anything we can do to generate public input can pay big dividends.
Megan said if we get the F-35 there is a lot of opportunity to bring in businesses that would support the aircraft. It is such a technological aircraft. What has happened in Utah is there are new companies that have relocated to support that aircraft. Tammy added that we do have a growing aerospace industry in the valley and this would be a good addition to that.
Tammy said the bottom line is in order to be a player in this effort we have to be noisy to counteract the naysayer’s that have been vocal to this point.
Darin asked if our being active and noisy is where the rubber meets the road. Brigadier General Mike Nolan said being active and vocal is a big part of it. At this point, they have scored the competing bases on airspace, infrastructure, etc. and the competing bases are all really close. The only thing that is going to make a difference is the local support from the community.
Any efforts we make in favor of the F-35 will make a difference.
General Sayler said when they look at the selection there is four broad categories of specifics they look at, infrastructure, buildings, airspace and ranges. The fifth category is called military judgement. They believe that is where community support will weigh heavily. If we have a very active campaign and gather a bunch of community support, that will make a difference.
Bill said as we talk about a collective event, he stressed how important the individual jurisdictional events are. It shows broad based support across multiple jurisdictions and publics.
Darin moved and Joe seconded that the Partnership signs the guest opinion letter and submit it to print media. Motion approved.
John moved and Darin seconded to approve the minutes and financial reports. Motion approved.
First Quarterly Report 2017
SAUSA Treasure Valley – Costs Avoided Report through 1st Qtr. 2017
TVP Guest Opinion Letter- Gowen Strong