State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said in an interview yesterday with the Times that she will request state funds to help the north country ward off the closure or downsizing of Fort Drum.
"We're still in negotiations about the actual dollar amount," Mrs. Ritchie said. "That money would be to provide resources, to make the case locally. I'm assuming the (Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization) would be the agency that would get some of that money."
Mrs. Ritchie said Monday she had spoken with Senate leaders on the matter in hopes to get it in the Senate's version of the state budget — m ore a negotiating position than a piece of legislation that will become law. She also spoke with a member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive branch about it today, her staff told the Times.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last week that President Obama will request another round of the Base Realignment and Closure process. That set into motion a process that the Drum community is very familiar with in arguing for Drum's importance in the nation's defense.
There are three combat brigades at Fort Drum right now, and one 10th Mountain Division brigade at Fort Polk, in Louisiana. The BRAC process could change those numbers, with Drum losing or gaining a brigade. Either way, it'll have ramifications on Watertown's economy and its housing market. But when it comes to pleading Drum's case, economic issues do not play a role. The Army is interested in the national interest, not the parochial interest.