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FDRLO circulates petitions to preserve Fort Drum’s status

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WATERTOWN — Representatives of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization will be gathering signatures from the community on a petition urging Army officials to keep the post’s mission and manpower intact.

The petitioning activity will kick off this evening during a performance of the Orchestra of Northern New York at Thompson Park. FDRLO Executive Director Carl A. McLaughlin said the petitions will be part of a formal response to the Army’s recently released “Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment.”

The report, released Thursday, warns that a worst-case scenario of defense cuts, including slashing 16,000 soldier and civilian positions on post by 2020, would cause a $1.6 billion economic catastrophe across the region. No decision has been made by the military regarding any possible cuts and a decision may not be made until next year.

However, FDRLO has until Aug. 25 to send a formal response to the Army. While the response likely will include input from Fort Drum and business leaders, Mr. McLaughlin said the petitions are an opportunity for the community to express its support for the post.

“We call ourselves a defense community and we’re very proud of that,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Most people recognize the importance of Fort Drum as it is currently constituted and what we’re asking them to do is show that support.”

At the annual Concert in the Park, which begins at 5:30 p.m. today, FDRLO will have tables under a banner briefly stating the purpose of the petition and representatives of the organization will circulate through the crowd garnering signatures.

“We’re not asking for anything complicated — just your signature and your endorsement,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

FDRLO also has an online petition available.

Presented by the North Country Arts Council, the annual Independence Day event will include a 5:30 p.m. show by the local band Wagner’s Agenda, a 6:40 p.m. performance by Northern Blend Chorus and 7:35 p.m. speeches by organizers and local dignitaries before the 8 p.m. “Bravo Broadway” show with the orchestra and its conductor, Kenneth Andrews.

The free concert is an Operation Yellow Ribbon event, and is sponsored by several community businesses and organizations, including Watertown Savings Bank, Slack Chemical and Purcell Construction, and media sponsors, including Community Broadcasters, Watertown Daily Times and 7 News/Fox 28.


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